U.S. investigates EU’s continued ban on beef imports
The White House warned that inaction to end the European Union's longtime ban on U.S. beef imports will lead to retaliatory tariffs.
The White House said it will investigate the European Union's continued ban on U.S. beef imports, which it concludes is not based on “sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers and producers.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) further warned that if this EU trade action continues, the U.S. will reinstate industry-supported tariffs in the amount of $116.8 million on a list of EU product imports.
"The WTO determined that the European Union's ban on U.S. beef imports violates its international trade obligations," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement. "The EU has failed to live up to assurances to address this issue, and it's now time to take action."
In 1998, the EU lost a case at the World Trade Organization for banning American beef. In 2009, the U.S. negotiated an agreement to allow a modest degree of market access for specially-produced beef that meets the EU's standards, but that agreement has not worked as intended, according to the USTR.
The European Commission had argued that this issue should be resolved through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the European Union and United States. “Given that European officials decided after their trade minister's meeting in September not to complete T-TIP this year, now is the time to take action,” USTR said.
An interagency committee of trade experts and economists will participate in the USTR hearing and review public comments on the particular products and EU member states that may be subject to the imposition of additional duties, if the dispute is not soon resolved.
"There is no doubt that American beef products are safe. The 20-year EU ban has been in effect far too long. It is not based on fact and should be lifted," said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson.
“We fully support USTR’s decision to use the means available to it under U.S. law to defend the interests of the U.S. beef industry,” said Philip Seng, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. “Over the past seven years, U.S. cattlemen and meat packers have made significant investments to meet the requirements of the EU market, only to see the U.S. share of the market undermined by producers in Australia, Uruguay and Argentina. This situation is unsustainable and demands a firm and decisive response.
“The 2009 agreement [with the European Union] initially appeared to represent a step in that direction, but unfortunately it has not lived up to the industry’s expectations. Under the circumstances, we cannot agree to stand by as our competitors take an ever-expanding share of a quota that was specifically created to compensate the United States,” Seng added.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that the U.S. beef industry exports an average $6 billion per year worldwide. These exports produce an estimated $7.6 billion in economic activity and support 50,000 jobs nationwide.
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