E.U. agrees to extend talks on growth promotant ban

by Bryan Salvage
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DENVER — U.S. and E.U. officials have agreed to extend negotiations aimed at resolving the two-decades-old trade dispute regarding beef produced with growth promotants. The date on which the Office of U.S. Trade Representative was scheduled to impose carousel retaliation measures raising duties on a new lineup of products imported from the EU was April 23, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

But this action has been delayed until at least May 9, while the two sides continue negotiations on a compromise solution that would leave the E.U.’s growth-hormone ban in place but provide other trade relief that may allow the U.S. to export a higher volume of beef into Europe.

The extension is a positive development, according to Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice-president for policy, planning and research. "I think it’s encouraging," he said. "It means that the negotiators have gotten signals from the E.U. that finally they’re serious and that there’s the opportunity there to finalize this deal. Basically, what we’re looking for out of this agreement is something that would give us access to the European beef market that we don’t have today."

While retaliatory measures give the United States leverage in reaching a settlement, a compromise solution allowing more U.S. beef to enter Europe would be a far more beneficial outcome for the U.S. beef industry, Mr. Lively said. 

"We think that’s certainly worth a lot more to producers than the current situation where we’re blocking the imports from the E.U.," he added. "The value of the retaliation has been used up. I think you could argue it has brought the E.U. to the table, but from the standpoint of what it returns to the industry — the retaliation really has no value at all."

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