Pointing out that pork represents 72 percent of the meat consumed by Vietnam’s 84 million people, the National Pork Producers Council is urging Congress to approve permanent normal trade relations for the Southeast Asian nation, a move that would let U.S. pork producers increase exports to the country.

PNTR would allow U.S. exporters to take advantage of Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization. In May, the U.S. and Vietnam finalized an agreement on market access, which paved the way for the Asian country to join the WTO. Vietnam also has made numerous improvements to its implementation of WTO rules on sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and has agreed to recognize the U.S. inspection system for pork as equivalent to its inspection system.

According to IowaStateUniversity economist Dermot Hayes, the Vietnamese accession deal will increase U.S. pork variety meat exports to Vietnam from $3 million in 2004 to $16.5 million by 2012. The economic impact of this increase in exports equates to $0.52 per hog, or 4.4 percent of producer profits.

To complete its accession bid to the WTO, Vietnam must complete bilateral market access negotiations and multilateral negotiations on a Working Party Report and Protocol of Accession. Vietnam also is still in the process of enacting legislation that will enable it to apply WTO provisions after its accession. The country expects to join the WTO before the November meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which consists of 21 nations.