Beefing up trade: EU-US sign agreement on imports of hormone-free beef
05 Aug 2019 --- The US and EU have signed a deal in Washington reviewing the functioning of an existing quota to import hormone-free beef into the EU. The agreement is fully in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and establishes that 35,000 metric tons (MT), out of an allotted tariff-rate quota of 45,000 MT will now be allocated to the US, phased over a seven year period. The remaining amount will be left available for all other exporters.
This agreement is part of a cooperation strategy by Presidents Juncker and Trump dating back to July 2018 when they initially established a positive EU-US bilateral trade agenda.
At a previous White House gathering of EU officials and US ranchers, President Trump announced that in the first year of the agreement, duty-free US beef exports to the EU will increase by 46 percent, and over the seven-year period will continue to rise by 90 percent. “In total the duty-free exports will rise from US$150 million to US$420 million, an increase of over 180 percent,” he said.
The current quota will continue to cover only products complying with the EU's high food safety and health standards. This step is key to resolving a long-standing dispute between the EU and the US on measures imposed by the EU in 1989 on US exports of meat that contained artificial beef growth hormones, notes the European Commission (EC).
“By requesting this mandate to the Council the Commission is delivering on an engagement taken earlier this year to try to address some concerns raised by the US on the functioning of the quota in a mutually satisfactory solution that is fully in line with WTO rules,” EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan has previously stated. “By taking this step, we are also contributing to ease tensions across the Atlantic, in line with the agreement reached by President Juncker in July .”
In 2009, the EU and US concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), revised in 2014, which provided for an interim solution to a longstanding WTO dispute regarding the use of certain growth-promoting hormones in beef production. Under the MoU, a 45,000 MT quota of non-hormone treated beef was opened by the EU to qualifying suppliers, which includes the US. Under WTO rules the quota also had to be made available to non-US suppliers.
As further negotiations with the US were concluded in February, the EC sought and obtained the accord of the other substantial supplying countries, in line with the applicable WTO rules.
The signing of the agreement has been welcomed by US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Getting more US beef into the EU market is yet another example of President Trump expanding markets around the globe for our agriculture producers,” he says. “I have no doubt that when given the opportunity to purchase US products we will see more Europeans choose to buy American.”
The signing of the trade deal was facilitated by Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Ambassador to the US and Jani Raappana, Deputy Head of Mission, for the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU and Robert Lighthizer, US Trade Representative.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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