The Obama Administration announced that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is taking action against the European Union’s (EU) unfair trade practices that discriminate against U.S. beef imports. Acting on the request of the U.S. beef industry, USTR has scheduled a public hearing and is seeking public comments in connection with the EU’s ban on most U.S. beef products.
The EU’s ban on U.S. beef is not based on sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers, and producers. If the trade action resumes, the United States would reinstate industry-supported tariffs on a list of EU products imported into the United States. USTR is particularly interested in comments addressed to the possible effects of reinstatement on U.S. consumers and small- or medium-sized businesses.
“The WTO determined that the European Union’s ban on U.S. beef imports violates its international trade obligations,” said Ambassador Froman. “The EU has failed to live up to assurances to address this issue, and it’s now time to take action. Today’s action holds the EU accountable and is an important step in encouraging the Commission to come back to the table to ensure that American ranchers have access to Europe’s market and that European consumers have better access to high-quality U.S. beef.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Tracy Brunner applauds USTR Ambassador Froman for standing up for the U.S. beef industry and taking action in defense of U.S. beef producers.
“The European Union has left us no choice but to seek compensation for the long-standing mistreatment of U.S. beef exports,” said Brunner. “Our temporary agreement with the E.U. was meant to be an opportunity to build a bridge of trust between U.S. beef producers and E.U. consumers, and to compensate the United States for the losses we have suffered as a result of the E.U.’s hormone ban. The E.U. has violated the spirit of that agreement and caused U.S. beef exports to become a minority interest in a quota meant to compensate U.S. beef producers.”
“While this is not our preferred choice, retaliation is the only way cattle producers are going to secure our rights for the losses we have incurred over the years due to the E.U.’s hormone ban,” said Brunner. “If the E.U. is unwilling to honor the terms of the agreement then we have no alternative but to seek restitution. We will not continue to be subjected to such trade agreement abuse.”
U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng issued the following statement:
“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. 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 U.S. beef industry has supported our government’s efforts to find a commercially feasible way for us to participate in the EU market. The 2009 agreement 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.”