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US pork council has doubts about trade deal with EU

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An ad hoc coalition of 40 United States food and agricultural organisations, which includes the country's National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), have expressed their concerns about a proposed Free Trade Agreement between the United States and the European Union.

The coalition did so in a letter sent this week to both the Obama administration and Congress. The proposed FTA, they feel, might fall short of long-established US objectives for trade pacts.

Newly elected NPPC president R.C. Hunt, said: “Some non-agricultural members of the business community have suggested that a US-EU FTA negotiation should not be pursued as a ‘single undertaking’ with success in one area dependent on success in all the others. The agriculture community, however, believes that, rather than creating a high-standard 21st century trade agreement that is central to the administration’s trade policy efforts, approaches other than a single undertaking would assure the perpetuation of trade barriers to many US products and sectors, including agriculture.”

High standards
“The EU’s free trade deals with other countries do not meet the high standards of US trade agreements,” added Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president and counsel for international affairs, “and we doubt that the EU would ever agree to open its market to agricultural commodities unless it was obliged to do so as part of a comprehensive trade agreement.”

Had it embarked on any of its existing FTAs using the approach being suggested by some for an agreement with the EU, the United States would not have in place the comprehensive agreements it has today, according to the coalition letter, and the administration would not be pointing to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks as the model for all future agreements.

“The United States is right to insist that the three countries seeking to join the TPP talks – Canada, Japan and Mexico – agree to meet the same TPP standards as the existing members, and if the EU were to ask to join the TPP, it should have to meet them as well,” said Giordano. “So a new agreement with the EU should be no different.”

Restrictions
The coalition letter makes clear that the removal of unjustifiable EU sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions on US food and agricultural products would have to be an important part of the overall goal of improving the bilateral US-EU relationship. The letter also points out that keeping agriculture in trade deals is a way for governments around the world to help keep the price of food affordable. “We need to see this as the critical national security issue that it surely is,” the agricultural groups stressed.

NPPC’s Hunt said that for all of the reasons mentioned in the letter, the United States must continue to take the lead in insisting that its trade deals be comprehensive. “We must not backslide and embrace the type of trade agreement favored by the EU, which, like other EU FTAs, would fall well short of WTO requirements that FTAs cover substantially all trade,” he said. “We must be consistent and pursue TPP-type FTAs.”

Related website:
US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)

by Vincent ter Beek

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