U.S. beef has gained access to markets in Morocco for the first time under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 2006.
Initial estimates indicate it would be an $80 million market for U.S. beef and beef products, according to the U.S. Trade Representative Office and USDA.
“New access to the Moroccan market for beef and beef products is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products, Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative, said in a joint statement with USDA.
“Finding new markets for American agricultural products has been a priority for the Trump administration from day one, and the opening of the Moroccan market is good news for our producers,” Sonny Perdue, USDA secretary, said.
U.S. Meat Export Federation appreciates the efforts of USTR and USDA in opening the Moroccan market to U.S. beef, Joe Schuele, USMEF vice president of communications, told Capital Press.
“We see growing demand for high-quality beef on the African continent, and this represents another opportunity to expand U.S. beef's presence in Africa,” he said.
Year to date through October, U.S. beef exports to Africa were nearly 19,000 metric tons valued at $20.9 million, according to USMEF.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is grateful for the administration’s leadership on beef trade with Morocco, Kevin Kester, NCBA president, said in a statement.
“Open markets are the lifeblood of the U.S. cattle and beef industry. New access to Morocco is welcome news for producers, and we are excited that Moroccan consumers can now enjoy high-quality U.S. beef,” he said.
Under the free trade agreement, the duty-free volume for USDA choice or prime beef cuts is 6,404 metric tons in 2018 and 6,660 metric tons in 2019. The quota volume for other beef cuts and variety meats is 2,343 metric tons this year and 2,390 in 2019.
Morocco’s out-of-quota duties are extremely high at 275 percent, so U.S. duty-free beef should have an advantage over competitors. All duties on U.S. beef exports to Morocco will be phased to zero by 2023, USMEF said.
Through September, Morocco’s beef imports were mainly from the EU, 1,894 metric tons valued at $9.8 million; Argentine, 680 metric tons valued at $2.9 million; and Brazil, 207 metric tons valued at $900,000, USMEF reported.
Imports from the EU were up 10 percent year over year, and the EU is currently negotiating a free-trade agreement with Morocco. Imports from Argentina and Brazil were down 70 percent and 11 percent, respectively, according to USMEF.
U.S. poultry gained access to Morocco in August. Initial estimates indicate it would be a $10 million market for the U.S. with room to grow.
U.S. pork and lamb are not currently listed as eligible for Morocco, and Morocco imports little of either product, Schuele said.
Its pork imports through September were just 192 metric tons valued at about $1 million, with most of the product coming from Spain. Lamb imports were 26 metric tons valued at about $140,000, mostly from Australia and Spain, he said.