Mariann Fischer Boel says she expects negotiations to continue night and day through 2005 in anticipation of a major ministerial meeting in Hong Kong next December. The talks, often stalled over agricultural trade issues, have been ongoing since 2001.
That trade is the lifeblood of the U.S. farm economy is no secret. Decent sales overseas have helped many sectors improve the bottom line, including the pork industry.
A review of USDA data shows that through October, exports of U.S. pork and variety meats were 34 percent higher in volume compared to the same period in 2003. The numbers look like this:
--For the first 10 months of 2004, nearly 820,000 metric tons of exports worth $1.79 billion.
--For all of 2003, some 758,000 metric tons of exports worth $1.58 billion.
The Meat Export Federation credits the jump to increased trade with a number of overseas markets. For instance, exports to Japan rose by 12 percent in volume and 20 percent in value.
But Mexico remains the top importer of U.S. pork and variety meats. The 10 month-total of 286,000 tons marks the fifth consecutive record year of U.S. pork exports south of the border.
Records also have been broken or are on pace to be broken for exports to Canada, China and Taiwan.