Trade Policy

USDBC  is the voice of the industry with U.S. and overseas government and private sector representatives.

We ensure that trade agreements and trade negotiations include the interests of the U.S dry bean industry with regards to policies that encourage greater exports and a level playing field.  Additionally, the USDBC Executive Director advises both the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Trade Representative on trade related matters as an appointee of the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee on grains and field crops (ATAC).  USDBC also is represented on the high level Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).

Among USDBC top policy priorities are:  Maintaining the benefits for the US dry bean industry and U.S. agriculture in NAFTA, ensuring that we move forward on negotiations in the Asia Pacific region and that we are to continue with ratification of a TPP agreement that represents the best interests of U.S. agriculture.  We continue to support bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that level the playing field and confer preferential market access to U.S. agricultural goods.

While there has been minimal progress on a WTO agreement crafted from what remains of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), we continue to support the existence and mandate of the WTO and support efforts to continue to negotiate a worldwide agreement to end the practice of state trading export enterprises, unfair export subsidies, trade distorting subsidization of agricultural production, and a cap on skewed import tariffs that impact competitiveness.

We also work to ensure that global sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations are based on sound science and not formulated to be protectionist in nature nor prevent imports.

Some of our specific trade policy goals around the world include:


There is a 15% import duty on imports of pulses and a value-added tax of 10%.


There is an import duty of 5% on imports of pulses and a value-added tax of 10%. The value-added tax is especially problematic, significantly increasing the price of pulses relative to competing commodities, such as soybeans.


There is an import duty of 20% on various types of dry beans.


All beans used to be imported duty free until April this year when a 6% GST (or VAT) was imposed on all services related to the shipments within Malaysia. This applies to all sources, so it is not a disadvantage to U.S. beans but should be addressed in the context of trade negotiations.  Another issue is the official certification of HALAL by a recognized Islamic authority at source. Up to now, the religious authorities in Malaysia are accepting an in-house certification by the exporter. But there are growing signs that that they will soon not accept this and will insist on an actual Halal Certificate (Australian Milling Group Doc.). If food manufacturers are producing halal foods with the U.S. dry beans, an actual Halal Certificate is already required.


There is no import duty on imports of dry beans or garbanzo beans, but an import license must be obtained.


There is an import duty of 3% on all imports of pulses and no value-added tax.  An import permit from the Bureau of Plant and Industry is required on all shipments. The import permit reference number has to be indicated on the phytosanitary certificate.


There are no import duties on shipments of dry beans, but a GST tax of 7% applies on sales/services in the country.


The import duty on dry beans is 30% is 5%. To import pulses, the product must be registered and a license obtained to bring the products in. The importer needs an SQF or Certificate of free sale and a phytosanitary certificate to import. The SQF must be obtained for the first import shipment and issued under the repacker or producer’s name. The SQF must then be approved by the U.S. Government. This is a problem for importers who buy in small quantities and/or consolidated shipments.


The import duty on dry beans is 15%.


Information pertaining to trade barriers in southeast asia was obtained through conversations with major importers in the ASEAN region as well as consultations with the FAS Offices in Southeast Asia. This information applies to shipments of U.S. dry beans and garbanzo beans.

It does not apply to bean flours or other ingredients or canned beans. There are different regulations in place for these.

The import duties are for dry beans from all sources. Due to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, however, there are no import duties on dry beans produced within ASEAN and shipped between markets. If a third country has a Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN, then the import duties also do not apply. For example, Australia/New Zealand and China have FTAs with ASEAN. Although the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership have yet to be announced, it is possible that these may impact the import duties on U.S. dry beans into Vietnam. There are no import duties on imports into Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, other TPP partners.


The European Union has no import tariffs on US dry beans, except for a small EU duty of 3.2% imposed on US broad beans and horse beans. There is no harmonization between the EU and the US concerning MRLs (maximum residue levels for pesticides).  There is no harmonization between the EU and the US concerning organic certification.  Genetically modified products for human consumption must not exceed 0.9% of GM material.
In April 2015, the EU announced a draft for discussion by TTIP, which would allow member states to individually decide whether to allow imports of genetically modified foods and animal feed. This move mirrors an earlier compromise approved by the European Parliament in January 2015 which gave the 28 EU countries the right (subject to conditions and safeguards) to decide whether or not to allow the cultivation of GMO crops. Currently in the EU, only one GM crop is approved for commercial cultivation: insect resistant maize, MON 810.  The total area of GM maize grown in the EU in 2012 was 129,000 hectares (319,000 acres) with Spain, producing more than 90%. Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland have adopted safe-guard clauses prohibiting the cultivation of GMOs on their territory.


There is a 19.2% import tariff on all dry beans. Import licenses for Turkish importers: $145 per container; a Turkish Customs fee of about $450 per container is also charged to importers. There is a fourteen day phytosanitary certificate rule, which states that a phytosanitary certificate must be issued and dated within 14 days of shipment. Some US dry bean companies are addressing this issue by having products certified at the port of embarkation, despite the additional cost.


In August 2014, President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian government would impose an import ban on certain foodstuffs originating from the US, the EU, Canada, Australia, and Norway. All dry legumes (0713) are on the list. This ban continues today with no sign of ending.


There is currently a quota on dry bean imports but since the limit has not been reached in many years, this is not an issue.  Also since TPP has just been negotiated, it appears tariffs for dry beans in Japan will be reduced once the agreement is implemented.

Another barrier to trade relates specifically to baby limas.  Due to HCN Hydrocyanic acid content in baby limas, which can be of health concern if not removed by cooking first, Japan has a rule limiting the usage/application of baby limas (and butter beans from Myammar which also contain HCN) to paste manufacturers who guarantee the baby limas will be cooked.  This rule dates back to the 1940’s.   This has been addressed with the Ministry of Health and Welfare in the past with requests to revise the rule but it requires testing proving safety of the product and it is cost prohibitive to undertake particularly given uncertainties of the Ministry’s lack of desire to take food safety ‘risks’.


Barrier 1: ZERO Soil Content/Residues Tolerance in U.S. Grain shipments including beans.

In 2012, SENASICA (Mexican National Inspection Service) started detaining bean shipments coming from the U.S. containing soil residues not complying with the ZERO soil content regulation. The proposed cleaning process, to comply (at the border) increases delivery time and cost of product and could be considered a Non-tariff Barrier.

The ZERO soil tolerance regulation was place in effect in 1995 by the Sanitary authorities in Mexico for all imported grains, creating trade disruption to NAFTA partners until SENASICA and APHIS had a verbal agreement to ease regulation. For over ten years the issue was not enforced strongly at the border until SENASICA argued that a number of shipments from different types of grains were being introduced into Mexico with high contents of soil.

IN 2012 SENASICA started to strongly enforce the regulation affecting shipments of different grains including dry bean, peas, lentils, and chickpeas amongst others. The USDBC Mexico market Representative has been following up on these cases. USDA/FAS Mexico followed up on these cases at government level with SENASICA in order to try to obtain a soil content tolerance for U.S. grains with no positive results. Cases of corruption arose in the process of the zero soil regulation enforcement at the border since parties involved wanted to have their products cleared as soon as possible. Months after the implementation of this regulation, SENASICA expedited and  implemented a written procedure to allow the re-cleaning of grain shipments at entry point in a certified facility.

The cost to reprocess the product is expensive and importers and exporters continue to follow the line of corruption established by the entry points. SENASICA’s position for this issue was stated as follows:

I. Soil content is not to be discussed – Grains are regulated products that must comply with the norm as it is in all other countries. Regulated products are subject to quarantine internationally. To have Mexico establishing a soil content tolerance, it would have to be made first by NAPPO.  There is no space for negotiation. If we were to discuss soil content, then we would have to discuss all other issues.

II. Higher costs resulting from the norm enforcement may be a concern, but food safety is more valuable.  Efforts have been made to have an alternative for grain cargo not complying with the norm in order to allow grains to be treated in Mexico instead of rejecting or destroying them as it should be, which would be more costly, that procedure is working.

III. If exporters want to avoid problems they must stop sending soil in grain shipments. The last important finding was in a soybean shipment from which 20 MT of soil were found and removed. Buying 20 MT of soil at soybean prices is not an option.. We have invited companies to presence the opening of cargos and in most cases, significant amounts of soil have been found.

IV. Electronic certification and equivalence is important in order to have better inspection practices, reducing shipments clearance time. Recommend to use the time to solve this issue rather than trying to discuss soil content. Since then the Mexico market Rep has continued following up on the development.

Soil Content Norm Enforcement Update August 28th, 2015

The situation continues to affect grain U.S. exporters and Mexican importers. SENASICA has not only make inspections tougher but also added more products to be inspected and barley was one of the latest. Legumes and other product shipments continue to be detained at the border for inspection when the smallest particle of soil is detected, meaning that most of the shipments are subject to comply with the procedure to cross the border increasing the cost of the products.

Recently SENASICA’s border agents inspected 120 railcars and all 120 went detained for further procedures. During the meeting, industry representatives stated concern with the impact of this situation and that the exchange rate of the peso vs. US dollar is officially affecting prices, a situation that did not exist a year ago.

Barrier 2: Potential palletization of grain shipments including dry beans to facilitate phyto-sanitary inspection at the border. On May 29th, 2014, SENASICA published in the Federal Register a Modification of the Requirements for Regulated Agricultural Merchandises, which would be in place after 60 days of its publication on July 29th, 2014. Since the moment the Mexican market Rep learned about these modifications started constant communication with: COAPROB – Agri-Food Basic Products Council (Mexican Importers) and USDA/FAS in Mexico.

The USDBC market Rep in collaboration with the Mexican trade, prepared and presented to SENASICA a logistics and cost draft study showing the impact on time and prices that it would represent if implemented, to try to have this measure corrected or deleted because of the impact that represents on the logistics-cost of importation. As a result of the constant dialogue with the authorities, to this date SENASICA has not enforced the measure on pulses, popcorn or sunflower seeds.