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Asian market is vital to US beef producers

A Texas rancher says expanding export opportunities for US beef in Asia is vital to the US beef industry.

Kelley Sullivan told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade this week the rise of the middle class in Asia means an increase in consumption of products like US beef.  “Simply put, trade allows us to capitalize on the differences in consumer preferences and capture value that would not exist if we sold to the domestic market alone,” she says.

She says the US has nothing to gain from walking away from KORUS, the US free trade agreement with Korea.  “Korea is now our second largest export market,” she says.  “Accounting for over 1-billion-dollars in annual sales.  Annual US beef sales have increased 82 percent during KORUS.”

While South Korea is the number 2 market for US beef, Japan is number one. Sullivan says US beef producers lost ground in the Asian market when the Administration pulled out of TPP negotiations.  “2017 has been a record year for US beef in Japan reaching nearly $1.1 billion in sales just through July,” she says.  “Due to that success, however, Japan triggered a snap-back tariff of 50 percent on frozen beef.  It went from 38.5 percent to 50 percent overnight.”

Without a free trade agreement in place with Japan, US beef is at a disadvantage on the global market and could lose its market share to competitors like Australia, who already have a trade agreement in place.

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