Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

990642 Hard to Avoid Retaliation in EU Beef Dispute

June 26, 1999

Washington - U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said that it was doubtful the European Union would open its market to beef from cattle raised with artificial growth hormones in time to avoid U.S. retaliation.

“I'm not overly optimistic we will see any progress before mid-July” when a World Trade Organization arbitrator is due to release its verdict on the U.S. request to slap tariffs on $202 million worth of EU products, she told the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Barshefsky also told the panel Washington was considering launching a WTO case against the European Union because of its continued obstacles to imports of U.S. genetically-modified crops. “The EU approval process on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is completely broken,” she said.

The United States has asked the EU to reconsider recent statements that it would never lift its ban on beef from cattle produced with artificial growth hormones, Barshefsky said. If it takes that step, discussions can resume on a three-point U.S. plan for opening the EU market to those imports, she said.

Washington has offered to negotiate a labeling system for “hormone-treated” beef that would allow European consumers to decide whether to buy that product. While those negotiations are continuing, the United States would accept temporary compensation in the form of some new trade benefit for American farmers, she said.

For those two steps to be taken, however, Europe must also state publicly that once the labeling issue is resolved, it would lift the ban, she said.

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