October 1, 2018
US pork council warns of adverse impact on pork sector due to US tariffs
US tariffs on auto imports would likely prompt retaliation from some of American agriculture's biggest trading partners, leading to catastrophic financial harm to farmers, the National Pork Producers Council stated in comments submitted recently to the Senate Committee on Finance.
In its ongoing efforts to realign US trade policy, the Trump administration is considering putting duties on autos and auto parts under the 1962 Trade Expansion Act's Section 232 for national security reasons.
NPPC reiterated its opposition to US tariffs imposed to date - Section 232 duties on steel and aluminum imports and tariffs on imported goods from China related to that country's theft of US intellectual property and forced transfers of US technology - and to any new tariffs.
"American agriculture generally and US pork producers specifically have borne the brunt of trade retaliation from some of our top trading partners," said NPPC president Jim Heimerl. "We can't afford to take another hit. If we do, a lot of farmers could go out of business, and consumers will pay a lot more for food."
According to an estimate from Iowa State University economists, an initial 25% Chinese tariff on US pork was the main cause of hog futures dropping by US$18 per pig from March through May, or US$2 billion industry-wide on an annualised basis.
In June, Mexico imposed a 10% tariff on US pork, and in July, it increased the duty to 20%. China imposed another 25% tariff on the US. Mexico is the US pork industry's number two export market followed by China which is number three.
US tariffs on auto imports could affect Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and at least four members of the EU - Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK – as well as countries that supply parts to those nations. All are customers of US pork.
Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea are four of the US pork industry's top five export markets.
"Tariff retaliation from any of those countries would be bad for us," Heimerl said, "but if we get duties from Canada, Japan, Mexico or South Korea - or all of them - US pork and other US farm exports would be dealt a devastating blow."
- National Pork Producers Council