United States and the Philippines have finally resolved details that have limited U.S. poultry and meat products, including pork from entering the country. The longstanding issues have been associated with a Philippines’ administrative order – or AO.

More specifically, in November 2010 the Philippine Department of Agriculture implemented AO22, which contained strict mandates for the refrigeration, traceability, labeling and packaging requirements for frozen meat and poultry. Regarding U.S. pork exports, the AO22 restrictons gave the market and price edge to the country’s domestic pork production.

Last year, during U.S. pork’s record export run, AO22 had a significantly negative effect on U.S. pork shipments to the country, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

But now, the Philippine Department of Agriculture has agreed to eliminate the requirement for pre-wrapping and thawing of frozen meat prior to sale, to make meat temperature (rather than the temperature inside the container) the complying factor for sale. The country also will allow meat to be cut and portioned outside of the container.

Among the other efforts to resolve AO22 issues, the Philippine Department of Agriculture also agreed to immediately stop all product confiscations, Veterinary Quarantine Certificates (VQCs) would not be used to restrict pork imports and the “test-and-hold” system would immediately revert to random sampling.

NPPC worked with trade and industry officials in both countries to help reach this resolution to AO22. The next step is to put the understanding in writing and publish the draft proposal. Once that’s completed, the new AOs will replace the AO22.

“This should eliminate the major impediments to trade in meat and poultry products,” say NPPC officials. In addition to significantly easing conditions on frozen meat handling and marketing, the new AOs will impose an eight-hour time limit on the marketing of “warm” meat, with the clock starting shortly after slaughter, that will level the playing field between domestic and imported meat and poultry products.

In 2011, the Philippines was the eighth largest volume and value market for U.S. pork exports, totaling 38,884 metric tons valued at $92 million, according to U.S. Meat Export Federation data. The Philippines has the potential to become an even bigger market for U.S. pork products.