UK pig farmers could benefit from possible trade war

Pig farmers in the UK could benefit from the possible trade war between the US and China, which is threatening to impose an additional import tariff of 25 per cent on all US pork products in retaliation for higher tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

In March, President Trump announced a 25 per cent duty on steel imports and a 10 per cent charge on aluminium imports, essentially targeting suppliers such as China. This led to a retaliatory tariff on a number of goods exported into China from the US, including pork, nuts, wine and fruit.

The US sells one in four of its hogs abroad and the Chinese are the world’s biggest consumers of pork. In fact, mainland China and Hong Kong together form the third-largest market for US pork based on value.

This could leave an opening for the European Union (EU) and the UK, as currently 14 per cent of all China’s imported pig meat comes from the US and 65 per cent of Chinese pig meat is exported from the EU.

As one industry commentator remarked, with demand of that magnitude, China could need to source some replacement product from the global market.

According to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the UK has access to the Chinese market for certain fresh pork products and there is probably more of an upside for the EU pork if China is looking to replace US port imports.

However, a spokesperson also pointed out that the China-US trade measures also illustrate the sensitivity of trade relations outside the single market and highlight the potential vulnerability of trade once the UK leaves the EU.