US cattle producers have welcomed the formal signing of an agreement with the EU in Washington DC that will see 35,000t of hormone-free beef quota allocated exlusively to the US from a previously-agreed multi-supplier quota.
The deal was finalised in June after months of deliberation, as reported by Beef Central at the time, with the agreement formally signed in Washington last Friday.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Jennifer Houston, who attended the White House signing ceremony, said it was a good day for America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen.
“President Trump and his trade team deserve a lot of credit for standing up for America’s cattle industry and securing this important market access to Europe,” she said.
“For many years it has been difficult for us to sell our high quality US beef to European consumers because of the restrictive tariff and non-tariff barriers, but the establishment of this 35,000 metric ton duty-free quota sends the signal to America’s cattle industry that Europe is ready for US beef.”
She said the deal would not have happened “without the effort of President Trump and his trade team”.
Once implemented, the annual quota will increase from 18,500 metric tons in year one to 35,000 metric tons in year seven.
The NCBA said the country-specific quota will benefit US beef producers who participate in USDA’s non-hormone treated cattle program that was established in 1999.
The United States Trade Representative estimates the quota will increase annual US beef sales in Europe from $150 million to $420 million in year seven.
Mr Trump called the agreement a “tremendous victory for rangers, farmers, and European consumers”.
The European Commission said any beef deal will not increase overall beef imports and that all beef coming in would have to be hormone-free to respect EU food safety regulations. Any deal would have to be approved by the European Parliament.
Australian exporters who are among the qualifying suppliers for the quota who will now lose market share as a result of this deal have argued that granting exclusive access breaches World Trade Organisation rules and discriminates against other suppliers.
However, the European Commission said in a statement it believes the agreement signed in Washington is “fully in line with WTO rules and establishes that 35,000t of this quota will now be allocated to the US, phased over a seven-year period, with the remaining amount left available for all other exporters”.
“The overall volume of the quota opened in 2009 remains unchanged, just like the quality and safety of beef imported into the EU, which will remain in compliance with the high European standards,” the Commission said.
“The council will now recommend the agreement to the European Parliament for formal approval, so that it can enter into force in the near future,” the commission statement concluded.
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