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U.S. Seeks to Reinstate Trade Sanctions Against EU for Ban on Hormone-Treated Beef

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Obama administration announced Dec. 22 that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is taking action to reinstate retaliatory duties against European Union products in connection with the EU’s ban on hormone-treated U.S. beef. Acting on request of the U.S. beef industry, USTR has scheduled a public hearing and is seeking input in connection with this ban, which the U.S. contends is not based on sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers, and producers. USTR notes that if the trade action resumes the U.S. would reinstate retaliatory duties on a list of EU products imported into the U.S.

The U.S. beef industry’s request is based on a 1998 World Trade Organization ruling that the European ban on the import of meat and meat products from animals treated with certain hormones was not supported by scientific evidence and thus violated WTO obligations. In 1999, the WTO authorized the U.S. to impose additional tariffs on EU products with a total annual trade value of $116.8 million. Consistent with this authorization, the U.S. imposed additional duties on products from certain EU member states.

In May 2009, the U.S. and the EU signed a memorandum of understanding under which the EU agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef. However, USTR believes that agreement has not worked as intended due to increased imports under the duty-free quota from non-U.S. suppliers in recent years. While the European Commission had argued that this issue should be resolved through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the U.S. has decided to take action in light of the September decision of European officials not to complete TTIP this year.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) hailed USTR’s decision to protect the U.S. beef industry from unfair EU trade practices. Brady said that he looks forward to working with the Trump administration in the coming months “to regain market access for American beef and hold the EU accountable when it attempts to bend trade rules at the expense of U.S. workers and businesses.”

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