(This version of the Aug. 17 story, corrects 6th paragraph to 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.21 billion not 200,229 metric tonnes valued at $527.1 million.)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Argentina has agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork products for the first time since 1992, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.
Argentina had blocked imports of U.S. pork, citing animal health concerns. The United States is the world’s top pork exporter, and the agreement opens up a potential $10-million-per-year market for U.S. pork producers, the statement said.
The agreement follows a meeting between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Argentine President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.
The United States exports roughly 27 percent of the pork it produces, making it highly dependent on foreign markets at a time when hog supplies are growing seasonally.
Japan, Mexico and Canada are the top three destinations for U.S. pork.
From January to June of this year U.S. pork exports totaled 1.25 million metric tonnes valued at $3.21 billion. (U.S.), according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
USMEF economist Erin Borror said that in 1991 Argentina brought in 62 tonnes of U.S. cooked/cured pork worth about $218,000.
Currently Brazil is Argentina’s primary supplier of imported pork and they will likely export around 32,000 tonnes this year, valued at somewhere around $95 million, she said.
National Pork Producers Council spokesman Nick Giordano applauded the agreement because it offers the United States an opportunity to provide pork to a country whose demand for it has increased substantially in recent years.
He expects the market to open formally by the end of 2107 and anticipates $10 million in sales annually within the next three years.
“It’s not going to be a huge market for us, but it’s important and we’re happy after 20-plus years of knocking on the door and it has opened,” said Giordano.
Reporting by Eric Beech and Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Andrew Hay