Morocco Grants Access for U.S. Beef Opening Up a New Trade Market

After a previous prohibition, U.S. beef has gained access to Morocco which could become an $80 million market. ( Multimedia Graphic Network, Inc. )

U.S. beef has been granted access into Morocco after a previous prohibition on beef imports. The announcement was made by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Dec. 6 after an agreement was reached between the countries. Under terms of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) both beef and poultry from the U.S. were approved admittance to Morocco. Poultry from the U.S. has been eligible for the Moroccan market since August 2018.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products.  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,” says Ambassador Lighthizer.  “I welcome Morocco’s agreement to allow imports of U.S. beef and look forward to growing our shipments to Morocco.”

“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,” says Secretary Perdue.  “American beef is the best in the world, and once Moroccans get a taste of it, they’ll surely want more.”

While Morocco is not a major beef buyer on the global stage, it is estimated to be an $80 million market for U.S. beef and beef products. Last year the U.S. ranked third globally in beef exports after marketing $7.3 billion in beef sales internationally. 

Trade negotiations for the U.S. were led by USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Amb. Gregg Doud and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ken Isley. They negotiated a health certificate and the terms for the import of U.S. high quality and standard quality beef into Morocco. Also discussed was adjusting Morocco’s wheat tariff-rate quota and other agriculture issues.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) expressed gratitude to the U.S. trade representatives who helped open up a new market for U.S. beef.

“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. NCBA is grateful for the leadership President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and Ambassador Doud have shown on this issue. We look forward to working with them to continue tearing down trade barriers for U.S. beef in markets around the world,” says NCBA President Kevin Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), “duty-free quota volume for USDA Choice or Prime beef cuts is 6,404 metric tons for this year and 6,660 metric tons in 2019. The quota volume for other beef cuts and variety meat is 2,343 metric tons this year and 2,390 metric tons in 2019.”

Duties for U.S. beef will be phased out by 2023. As it currently stands if quota limits are exceeded a 275% duty is added.

The largest trade partner with Morocco for beef is the European Union (EU) with 1,894 metric tons of mostly frozen boneless beef imported through September. The EU has increased export volumes to Morocco by 10% year-over-year with a value of $9.8 million. Morocco and the EU are currently negotiating their own free trade agreement, which could increase competition for the U.S.

Argentina exported 70% less beef to Morocco through September, while Brazil’s volume dropped 11%. Argentina accounted for 680 metric tons of beef traded valued $2.9 million during this time and Brazil sent 207 metric tons worth just $900,000.

Details on exporting beef to Morocco can be found on USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Export Library.

For more on U.S. trade agreements that could impact beef read: