Canadian pork seen gaining as Korea eases tariffs

Canada is expected to benefit from South Korea’s decision to temporarily remove a 25 per cent tariff on imported pork as Seoul tries to stabilize pork prices during a severe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

“The temporary removal of the tariff on pork by South Korea will create a vacuum for all major shippers of pork, including Canada,” said Martin Rice, executive director with the Canadian Pork Council.

Canada’s shipment of pork to South Korea prior to October 2010 had been averaging between 2,500 to 4,500 tonnes, he said.

However, when the foot-and-mouth situation began to get worse, shipments of Canadian pork to South Korea increased to over 5,000 tonnes during October and November.

Rice felt Canadian pork shipments to South Korea during December 2010 and January 2011 would be in the 6,000- to 7,000-tonne range.

“The 60,000-tonne quota that South Korea has removed the tariff on is already being filled quickly,” Rice said. He speculated Canada would provide about a third of that pork product quota.

South Korea has been a good market for Canada’s pork, he said, given that the economy there still appears to be on the rise. Consumers in South Korea have been eager to buy meat products, including pork.

South Korea was said to be aggressively vaccinating all forms of animals susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease, including cattle, hogs and sheep. However, the recovery for South Korea’s hog industry due to the outbreak could take some time, Rice said.

Temporary easements aside, the Ottawa-based CPC on Jan. 12 was one of several meat and livestock groups urging the Canadian government to avoid further postponing its free trade talks with Seoul, after the U.S. and South Korea finalized their own bilateral trade deal last month.

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