Background

U.S. trade sanctions against the European Union stemming from a long-running dispute over the EU’s acceptance of hormone-treated beef will not be reinstated following a recent bilateral agreement on beef trade, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

In 1998 the World Trade Organization ruled that the EU’s 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 import quota for 45,000 metric tons of specially-produced beef. However, in December 2016 USTR said this agreement was not working as intended due to increased imports under the quota from non-U.S. suppliers.

The U.S. and EU subsequently concluded in August 2019 an agreement under which the EU will set aside 35,000 metric tons of the quota specifically for U.S. producers. That agreement is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, and USTR has therefore determined to conclude this proceeding as of that date with a determination not to reimpose the previous sanctions. However, USTR states that if implementation of the new agreement and other developments “do not proceed as contemplated” sanctions may again be considered.

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