DENVER – The Philippines has evolved into a good export market for US pork and beef in recent years, due, in part, to the relatively smooth market access afforded to imported meat products. However, the Philippine Department of Agriculture recently placed a hold on veterinary quarantine certificates (VQCs), causing lengthy delays as importers waited for their orders to be cleared for distribution.

Joel Haggard, US Meat Export Federation senior vice president, and Sabrina Yin, ASEAN director, were in Manila last week attempting to resolve this impasse. Livestock producers in the Philippines – especially pork producers – have been applying increased pressure on the government to curb imports, which may have been a contributing factor in this situation, Haggard said. Following extensive meetings with Philippine trade officials, the issuance of import certificates has now resumed, allowing product to re-enter the marketplace.

But these recent delays are a concern for importers and exporters alike, as they raise questions about the reliability of the Philippine market, Haggard said. Philippine officials have also been weighing regulations that would mandate a cold chain for all imported meat products while not applying the same regulatory scrutiny to domestically produced meat. These proposed regulations also raise concerns about the current business climate in the Philippines.

US beef exports to the Philippines through September this year totaled 22.3 million lbs. valued at more than $29 million – up 20 percent in volume and more than one-third in value compared to 2010. Pork exports, which have been more heavily impacted by recent events, are down from last year but still totaled nearly 65 million lbs. valued at more than $68 million.