Costa Rica is now part of the Central America Free Trade Agreement. CAFTA negotiations had been concluded in December with the nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. However, President Bush and his trade negotiators continued to work to add Costa Rica to the mix.

The action will now eliminate all tariffs on pork in those countries and open the Costa Rican market for U.S. pork producers.

“Costa Rica wanted to exclude pork from CAFTA but U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Zoellick and Chief Agriculture Negotiator Ambassador Allen Johnson, supported by President Bush and Congress, did not let us down,” says Jon Caspers, National Pork Producers Council president. “Our future is heavily dependent on expanding access for U.S. pork in foreign market.”

Since 1995, when the Uruguay Round Agreement went into effect, U.S. pork exports have increased 147 percent.

Under the terms of CAFTA, there will be immediate and phased-in
concessions on pork and pork products. A tariff-rate quota will be established through which the United States can immediately ship pork tariff-free within the quota. The quota size will increase annually, and the out-of-quota tariff will decrease over time. Both quotas and tariffs will be eliminated after 15 years.

Caspers notes that some further work needs to be done to ensure that each of the countries recognize the U.S. meat inspection system and implement transparent import procedures. “The elimination of tariffs is important, but in order to have meaningful, commercial access we need to be sure that all impediments to moving pork– including sanitary, inspection, and licensing issues– are resolved,” he says.

Source: National Pork Producers Council