September 7, 2018
EC seeks settlement of longstanding WTO dispute on US beef exports
The European Commission has recommended to the EU Council the opening of negotiations with the US in order to settle a longstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute on export of US beef.
Earlier on July 25, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and US President Donald Trump agreed to launch a new phase in the trade relationship between the EU and the US.
The EC said that besides implementing the specific elements identified in the joint statement, the two sides should also endeavour to work on outstanding trade issues.
"By requesting this mandate to the Council the Commission is delivering on an engagement taken earlier this year to try to address some concerns raised by the United States on the functioning of the quota in a mutually satisfactory solution that is fully in line with WTO rules", Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said.
"By taking this step, we are also contributing to ease tensions across the Atlantic, in line with the agreement reached by President Juncker in July. As we send this proposal to the Council I want to reassure European producers that the already existing beef quota under the Memorandum of Understanding will remain at exactly the same level".
Quota covers only non-hormone treated beef
He said that the said quota will continue to cover only products complying with Europe's high food safety and health standards, in this case only non-hormone treated beef.
In its proposal to the Council, the EC suggests allocating to the US a part of the existing quota that is also available to exporters from other countries.
The EC also suggests identifying a WTO-consistent and mutually agreed possible way forward, based on the country-allocation of the existing quota.
In 2009, the EU and the US concluded a memorandum of understanding, revised in 2014, which provided for an interim solution to a longstanding WTO dispute regarding the use of certain growth-promoting hormones in beef production. Under the agreement, a 45,000-tonne quota of non-hormone produced beef is opened by the EU to qualifying suppliers, which include the United States.
The previous US administration in 2016 requested a review of the MoU, and the two sides have since then discussed the US concerns on the implementation of the MoU on a regular basis.