In a move that USDA hopes will echo around the Pacific Rim, the Philippines have fully complied with international trade standards relating to beef and beef products — which will allow complete access for U.S. beef and beef products.

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner made the announcement, adding, “I applaud Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap for making a decision that is based on sound science and in line with international guidelines.”

As recently as 2003, the United States exported $4.9 million of beef to the Philippines. However, after a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) alarm was raised — following the detection of an infected cow — the Philippine market was closed to U.S. beef.

In May 2007, the United States was formally designated as a controlled risk country for BSE. The designation from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) verified the efficacy of U.S. BSE regulatory controls, and confirmed that U.S. beef and beef products of all ages can be safely traded.

In 2006, previous to the OIE ruling, U.S. beef exports (limited to boneless beef and offals from cattle less than 30 months old) gained partial access to Philippine markets, reaching $6.3. Under the new agreement announced by Conner, USDA estimates that U.S. beef exports to the Philippines could double in 2008.

Dialogue between USDA and the Philippine Department of Agriculture culminated in this latest agreement. “The Philippines has set the standard for other Asian nations, and we will continue to press for full market access throughout the Pacific Rim,” stated Conner.

Through USDA’s ongoing efforts to regain market access for the U.S. beef industry, more than 100 countries now allow the entry of at least some U.S. beef and beef products.