Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced it will start the process of reinstating retaliatory tariffs on goods and products from the European Union due to the E.U.’s unfair treatment of U.S. beef. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner applauds USTR Ambassador Michael 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.”
In 2009 the U.S. and the E.U. signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which the E.U. agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef to compensate the United States for losses arising from the E.U.’s ban on the use of hormones in beef production. Imports under the quota have grown steadily since then, and for the past two years, the entire 45,000 metric ton quota has been filled, though from countries other than the U.S.
Over the past two years the U.S. government has attempted, without success, to engage the European Commission in discussions about ways to rectify this situation.
“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.”
While initially imports from the United States accounted for the majority of the business done under the quota, over time imports from Australia, Uruguay and Argentina increased rapidly, taking a greater share of the quota. Neither Australia, Uruguay, nor Argentina was a party to the hormone dispute or the 2009 MOU that created the quota intended for the United States. The United States now has a minority and declining share of the quota, and imports so far this year point to a continuation of this trend.