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US Looks to EU for Poultry Meat Exports

05 November 2013

Us - The European Union could be one of the top export markets for US poultry meat according to the US National Chicken Council.

A successful Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement could result in the European Union becoming one of the top three export market for US poultry, Bill Roenigk, consultant and former senior vice president with the National Chicken Council, said at a US Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday.

US poultry exports could top $600 million a year to the European Union, Mr Roenigk said.

In 1997, the European Union prohibited the importation of U.S. poultry citing the use of hyper-chlorinated water during the processing of U.S. poultry and certain other related inspection issues. At the time, U.S. poultry exports to the European Union totaled about $55 million, making it the ninth largest export market for U.S. poultry. If the European Union of today, with 28 nations, had existed in 1996, U.S. poultry exports would have totalled $210 million, the third largest export market.

Mr Roenigk expressed some hope, but not necessarily optimism, that the European Union is “somewhat serious” about changing its ways to become more committed to meeting its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO). He pointed to the European Union discontinuing export subsidies for poultry. Such subsidies have been an integral part of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy since it was implemented in 1967. Also, following the European Union’s approval of lactic acid as a pathogen reduction treatment on beef carcass, the European Union is reportedly considering the approval of peracetic acid as an antimicrobial for use on poultry during processing.

The US poultry industry has been and continues to be one of the strongest voices in US agriculture for trade liberalisation and international market opening, Mr Roenigk said. But, in the case of T-TIP, he said the US poultry industry is, quite frankly, much less enthusiastic.

”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 told the committee.

Referring to the 1997 EU prohibition of US poultry, Mr Roenigk explained that the United States and the European Union were engaged in the so-called 'Equivalency Negotiations' attempting to implement many of the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures regarding 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 of the terms and conditions of access for US poultry. Despite US insistence that the USDA system guarantees a safe, wholesome product and the European Union’s failure to provide any evidence showing that the use of hyper-chlorinated water in poultry processing had any negative health effects or harm to the environment, the European Union, nonetheless, arbitrarily imposed its ban on US poultry.

“Our experience with the European Union’s actions to block US poultry imports – even in contradiction to 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 said. “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 implementing 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 not we don’t know if this initiative is a trick or a treat. From a US poultry perspective, we hope it is a treat,” he concluded.

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) asked about the importance, on a scale of 1 to 10, of having Congress approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which requires a straight up or down vote on trade agreements without any amendment. Mr Roenigk replied to Senator Carper “11”.

In his opening statement for the hearing of the Senate finance Committee, Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that the T-TIP is “an opportunity we must jump at quickly but that negotiations must address European barriers to agricultural imports. This new trade agreement could boost export to the European Union by a third and add more than one hundred billion dollars annually to US GDP,” 

“The United States and the European make up half of global GDP and more than a third of the global trade and T-TIP could deliver new jobs by lowering tariffs and cutting red tape and reducing costs for businesses. But for T-TIP to succeed, we must address the EU’s unscientific and unjustified barriers to US agricultural exports, including beef and poultry,” Mr Baucus added.

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