EU makes new trade deal that could allow more US beef imports

With transatlantic trade tensions being a key concern for the EU, anything to ease this tension is welcomed. And a recent move, back by EU lawmakers, to allow more US beef imports is now underway, which it is hoped will improve trade relations between Europe and the US.

Lawmakers in the EU voted in favour of the new agreement at the end of last month, which is a key hurdle in the process. Members of the international trade committee voted 26 to 7 in favour of a deal that would allow farmers in the US to have a majority in the current 45,000 tonne limit.

If this agreement is approved, there will be increased imports if beef, which could start as soon as the beginning of 2020. This would be an important step in calming trade relations in order to avoid a full-blown trade war, as feared by many.

According to Bernd Lange, the head of parliament’s trade committee, it’s essential that the EU and US find a solution for disputes over Airbus and Boeing Co subsidies, as well as disagreements over the increased US tariffs on EU steel, aluminium and other products.

“The message of this agreement is clear: we would like to de-escalate trade tensions with the US, but we want to see the same efforts of de-escalation on the other side of the Atlantic,” Bernd Lange said in an interview.

The dispute on US beef imports dates back several decades, to 1981. In this year, the EU banned the use of growth hormones in beef products. This meant that it could no longer accept imports from numerous countries, including the United States.

However, in 2009 an agreement was made to allow a quota of 45,000 tonnes of beef products, as long as they were hormone free. This was later rejected by the WTO, which said this quota needed to be accessible by other suppliers, not just the US, such as Australia, Uruguay, and Argentina.

The latest deal will allow the US alone to have a quota of 35,000 in the next seven years. This should hopefully be enough to stop trade disputes escalating in the future.

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