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EU Clears U.S. Beef Imports but Faults U.S. Tariffs
USAgNet - 12/02/2019

The European Parliament voted to approve a plan granting the United States a country-specific share of the European Union's duty-free high-quality beef quota.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom said, "Approval by the European Parliament keeps this agreement on track for implementation in early 2020, which is outstanding news for the U.S. beef industry and our customers in Europe. Lack of capacity in the duty-free quota has been a source of frustration on both sides of the Atlantic, and a U.S.-specific share of the quota will help ensure that U.S. beef can enter the European market 52 weeks per year, without delay or interruption."

But the EU lawmakers also criticized tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on metal imports and a threat he has made to target EU cars and car parts.

The Parliament voted 457-140, with 71 abstentions, in favor of a plan to allow U.S. farmers a larger share of an existing 45,000 tonne quota from 2020.

The vote came with a resolution urging the removal of U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, and the withdrawal of Trump's threat to raise tariffs on EU cars.

The agreement on beef is designed to settle a dispute that dates back to 1981 when the EU banned the use of growth hormones in meat across the 28-nation bloc, including in imports.

The EU and the United States eventually concluded an agreement in 2009 to grant a quota for hormone-free beef imports, which currently stands at 45,000 tonnes.

However, under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the quota also had to be made available to non-U.S. suppliers.

Exporters from Australia and Uruguay, and more recently Argentina, decided to sell into the quota, pushing the U.S. share from nearly 100% to 30%.

Under the revised deal, to which the other countries had to agree, U.S. farmers will gain an initial 18,500 tonnes of the quota, rising to 35,000 tonnes after seven years.

"The message of this agreement is clear: we would like to de-escalate trade tensions with the U.S, but we want to see the same efforts of de-escalation on the other side of the Atlantic," Bernd Lange, the head of parliament's trade committee, said in a statement.

The EU lawmakers also called on Washington to work with Brussels to find a solution to a long-running dispute over subsidies to planemakers which has led to WTO cases against Airbus and Boeing.

The European Union is one of the highest value destinations in the world for U.S. beef, and consistent access will not only benefit U.S. producers and exporters, but also European importers and their clientele, USMEF's Halstrom said.

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