Peru lifts trade barriers to U.S. beef

Washington, D.C. | Reuters — Peru has agreed to lift its remaining safety barriers to U.S. beef exports, further opening one of the fastest-growing markets in Latin America to U.S. ranchers, Obama administration officials said Monday.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agreement with Lima will remove certification requirements that have been in place since 2003 due to fears of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The changes reflect the United States’ “negligible risk” category for the disease from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

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Peru will now allow beef and beef products from all federally inspected U.S. establishments to be eligible for export to Peru, Vilsack and Froman said.

Previously, only U.S. sources of beef and beef products that participated in the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Export Verification program were eligible for export to Peru.

Even with those restrictions, the U.S. exported US$25.4 million worth of beef and beef products to Peru last year. Total trade of agricultural, fish and forestry products between the two countries topped US$3 billion in 2015, more than doubling since 2009.

“Peru has been a growing market for American beef and this agreement will only further expand opportunities for American producers and exporters,” Froman said in a statement.

“Not many years ago, there was little American beef going to Peru, but through the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, and agreements like this, we are seeing increased demand for high-quality American beef.”

Peru, which has had an active free trade deal with Canada since 2009, suspended imports of Canadian beef in February 2015 after the discovery of Canada’s first domestic case of BSE in four years. That suspension ended last August.

Peru, which accepted over 2,400 tonnes of Canadian beef in 2014, had previously closed its ports to the Canadian product from 2003 to 2012, after the discovery of Canada’s first-ever domestic BSE case.

Peru, along with Canada and the U.S., is a signatory to the 12-nation U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which sought to remove non-scientific food safety barriers to trade.

Reporting for Reuters by David Lawder. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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