Nick Giordano, National Pork Producers Council vice president and counsel for international affairs, met with officials of the Embassy of Thailand this week to discuss that country’s restrictions on pork imports. Thailand limits pork imports in three ways.
First, like China and Taiwan, Thailand is now refusing to accept pork in which the feed additive ractopamine was used in the production process. Ractopamine is a safe product, approved by FDA and by the relevant authorities in 26 other countries. There is no scientific evidence that supports Thailand’s protectionist policy on ractopamine.
Thailand also discriminates against imported pork by assessing an inspection fee of five Baht per kilogram, amounting to about $166 per metric ton. Yet, Thailand assesses an inspection of only $15 on domestic pork.
Under World Trade Organization rules, a nation may charge an inspection fee, but it must reflect the cost of the inspection. In the case of pork in Thailand, the charge is excessive and discriminates against imports in violation of WTO rules.
Finally, before its ractopamine restriction, Thailand issued import permits only in certain circumstances such as if it had a short supply of pork. The arbitrary issuance of import licenses contravenes WTO rules.
NPPC is seeking elimination of all three restrictions. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who recently visited Thailand, calculates that the removal of the barriers will result in significant U.S. pork sales to Thailand.