N.C.B.A. supports reviewing 'retaliatory' beef tariffs

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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WASHINGTON — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has announced its support of the United States Trade Representative’s decision to modify the list of European Union goods subject to increased tariffs in the ongoing trade dispute over beef treated with growth promotants. During the past several years, NCBA has been working closely with industry and USTR to resolve this dispute to the satisfaction of U.S. beef producers.

This action was advocated by NCBA as a means to promote a resolution of the long-standing trade dispute in comments to USTR. "There has been very little progress in removing the EU’s unscientific ban," said Andy Groseta, NCBA president. "NCBA encouraged these tariff modifications in the hopes that renewed pressure would urge a resolution to this dispute."

"The new products subject to retaliatory tariffs have great economic and political significance to the EU," said NCBA Chief Economist Gregg Doud. "We hope this will substantially increase the pressure on the EU to reverse its unfair trade policy."

The World Trade Organization Appellate Body confirmed as recently as Oct. 16, 2008, that the U.S. can continue imposing retaliatory sanctions until the dispute over the EU ban on hormone-treated beef is resolved. The EU has been unable to scientifically justify the reasons for imposing this unfair trade barrier, which has been in place for more than 20 years. The WTO has ruled multiple times that the EU has failed to satisfy the requirements of the WTO agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This was the first case heard by the WTO and it is still unresolved.

"The WTO ruled that this ban costs the U.S. more than $116 million in trade each year, but that doesn’t take into account the many new nations that have since joined the EU or the increase in demand we have seen globally," Mr. Doud said. "A seismic shift occurred in 2003 when the EU went from a net exporter of beef to a net importer. Today, the EU imports almost as much beef as the U.S. exports to the entire world. The potential market for U.S. beef in Europe could be substantially higher without this trade barrier."

Numerous U.S. and international scientific studies have shown that the hormones used in beef production are safe. Growth promotants used in cattle production are vigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration for safety -- both for the animals' well-being and for the trace amounts that may be in meat consumed by humans. The hormones, many of which occur naturally in other foods, have all been scientifically proven safe, Mr. Groseta said.

"The EU is the only entity that bans the use of these hormones," Mr. Doud said.

"Trade adds approximately $180 to each head of cattle marketed by U.S. producers," Mr. Groseta added.

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