US Poultry Industry Raises Doubts over US-EU Trade Deal01 November 2013
US - The US poultry industry has raised questions over the value of the recently brokered EU-US trade agreement.
In testimony at a US Senate Finance Committee hearing this week the National Chicken Council said that while the industry supports US agriculture, trade liberalisation and international market opening, it has concerns over the latest trade deal.
"In the case of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union (EU), however, the US poultry industry is, very frankly, much less enthusiastic," said National Chicken Council Senior Vice President, Bill Roenigk.
"We have serious concerns – even serious doubts – that any new trade agreement with the European Union will result in real and meaningful access for US poultry exports to the European market," Mr Roenigk said.
In 1997, the EU erected a number of non-scientific and unjustifiable non-tariff barriers that have prohibited US poultry from the European market for the past 17 years.
Today, if US poultry could be exported to the EU, sales would be in excess of $600 million on an annual basis, making it one of the top export markets. This revenue would generate significant economic activity in many parts of rural America; stimulate employment in more than 30 important poultry states, directly and indirectly; and provide for a more stable flow of income to hundreds of family farms who raise chickens.
The United States and the European Union at the time were engaged in the so-called "Equivalency Negotiations" attempting to implement many of the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures with respect to trade in meat and poultry products. The most difficult issue to resolve – indeed, the last issue to be resolved – in those negotiations was the issue to the terms and conditions for access for US poultry. Despite United States insistence that the USDA system guarantees a safe, wholesome product and the EU’s failure to provide any evidence showing that the use of chlorinated water in poultry processing had any negative health effects or harm to the environment, the EU, nonetheless, very arbitrarily imposed its ban on US poultry.
"Our experience with the European Union’s actions to block US poultry imports – even in contradiction of the advice of its own scientists – tells us that Europe is unwilling to allow imports that would compete with European product, and that Europe will not live by the commitments that it makes in this respect," Mr Roenigk continued. "We are also concerned, based on lack of progress in the WTO case initiated several years ago, that the US government will not insist on implementation of the terms of market access negotiated.
"We hope that we will, at some point, be able to strongly support this initiative. Tomorrow is Halloween… and right now we don’t know if this initiative is a trick or a treat. From a US poultry perspective, we hope it is a treat," Mr Roenigk said.
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