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Opportunities in EU-US Free Trade Agreement

10 February 2014

GLOBAL - In high level meetings with lawmakers in Washington, the presidents of Copa and Cogeca underlined the challenges and opportunities to be had from a potential free trade deal between the EU and US (TTIP).

They stressed that regulatory convergence is key to success of the talks.

Both sides agreed there is potential for growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Copa President Albert Jan Maat said: “Our economies are already well interlinked. The EU-US agricultural trade is fairly balanced and represents a total of 4 billion euros on both sides.

“The US is our biggest market for high quality EU agricultural products.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, we are seeing positive market trends for wine, cheese, processed meat in particular whilst Europe’s livestock sectors rely heavily on US supplies in protein feed.

“Food safety standards are at a very high level in both the US and EU, despite some differences on how to achieve this.”

He added: “Most of the gains, three quarters in fact in the trade talks would come from lifting non-tariff trade barriers.

“Yet production standards also have to be respected. European citizens expect our agriculture to deliver high quality food and services which respect high production standards.

“That is why it is crucial for us that any agreement is fair and respects consumer expectations and EU production standards and ensures regulatory convergence where possible.

“In particular, the use of hormones and other growth promoters in meat production and the chlorination of chicken is not allowed in the EU. This must be respected by the US.

“High EU animal welfare rules are also applied in the EU and imports should apply the same standards. Increasingly, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are interested in how their food is produced,” he said.

Cogeca President Christian Pees said: “Non-tariff barriers must be tackled. For example, in the fruit and vegetable sector, phytosanitary barriers prevent European fruit from entering the US market.

“This must be addressed. Furthermore, last year, the EU authorised the use of lactic acid in bovine carcase treatment. In return, the US’s political decision to allow the EU to export beef to the US market must come into force. This would indeed show commitment from the US side too.

“In addition, the EU/US veterinary agreement must be respected, with regionalisation, as set out in the WTO agreement.

“The EU system of geographical indications (GIs) which protects European quality produce like Parma ham from imitations must also be acknowledged. For producers of some EU regions and sectors, this is crucial for keeping the value added at farm level. Also, it is important for consumers to guarantee the authenticity of the product”.

Mr Pees concluded: “Despite the different views of the trading partners, it would be in the interest of both US and EU farmers and their cooperatives to reach a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.”

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