WASHINGTON – In what is being called a victory for U.S. pork producers, the Philippine government indicated last week it will maintain current rules for the administration of its tariff rate quota for pork, preserving U.S. access to a fast-growing market for U.S. pork exports, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

In recent months, the Philippine government had threatened to severely restrict pork imports by denying to legitimate Philippine importers the licenses they need to import pork within the country’s 54,210 metric ton pork T.R.Q. Amounts of imported pork below the T.R.Q. are subject to a lower, or in-quota, tariff rate. Once imports reach the T.R.Q. threshold, a higher tariff rate kicks in, N.P.P.C. explained.

Responding to that threat, the National Pork Producers Council filed a petition in December 2008 with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, requesting removal of the Philippines from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences. N.P.P.C. noted in filing that petition that the Philippine action would have violated World Trade Organization rules and a 1999 Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the Philippines.

G.S.P. is a program designed to provide developing countries, such as the Philippines, with preferential duty access to the U.S. market. In 2007, the Philippines exported $1.1 billion worth of products to the United States under the G.S.P. program.

"We are delighted the Philippine government has lived up to its international obligations and given Philippine importers full access to the pork T.R.Q.," said Bryan Black, N.P.P.C. president and a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. "In light of that, we have withdrawn our G.S.P. petition. However, we will remain vigilant to ensure the Philippine government continues to give the U.S. pork industry full access to its pork market."

N.P.P.C. said the Philippine decision to maintain its current T.R.Q. administration rules preserves a growing market for U.S. pork exports. U.S. pork sales to the Philippines in 2008 increased by 360% to 25,300 metric tons valued at $46 million.

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