The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) weighed in on two important trade matters recently, insisting that U.S. trade negotiators get a deal on pork from Japan similar to the one the United States got from South Korea, and urging lawmakers to exclude South Africa from a U.S. preferential trade measure.

In written testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee, NPPC said the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which was implemented in March 2012, “provides the kind of access opportunities for U.S. pork that NPPC would like to see in all U.S. FTAs.” It noted that the deal on pork in the agreement was accomplished despite opposition from South Korean farmers and compared it with the offer from Japan on pork in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Japan’s trade negotiators so far have refused to eliminate tariffs on pork – and a number of other “sensitive” agricultural products – because of opposition from Japanese farmers.

“Opening the market to U.S. pork is no more politically sensitive in Japan than it is in South Korea,” NPPC said in the testimony, which also pointed out that elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers on all products is the hallmark of U.S. FTAs. NPPC also stated, “There is absolutely no reason Japan should be treated differently from other U.S. FTA partners.”

African Growth and Opportunity Act

The organization also sent testimony to the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee, in addition to the Senate Finance Committee, on renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which gives African countries preferential treatment for their products in the U.S. market. AGOA expires next year.

NPPC supports renewal of AGOA for countries that abide by their international trade obligations and that allow access to their markets for U.S. products. It said South Africa, which doesn’t meet those criteria, should be excluded, and the United States should not start free trade negotiations with that country.

Despite years of technical discussions between the U.S. and South African governments, NPPC pointed out in its testimony, the African nation has made no effort to eliminate barriers to U.S. trade in pork. The restrictions, said NPPC, are not based on legitimate food-safety concerns and likely violate World Trade Organization rules.

“Given South Africa’s de facto ban on U.S. pork and its lack of progress in opening its market,” said NPPC, “South Africa should be excluded from participation in the AGOA program.”