Future bright for U.S. beef in EU markets

Beef exports have the potential to double by 2025 under agreement.

December 13, 2019

2 Min Read
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The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) said the conclusion of a trade dispute with the European Union (EU) will provide U.S. beef producers the opportunity to double exports to Europe by 2025.

“This agreement is yet another successful effort by the Administration and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate trade disputes and agreements on behalf of the U.S. meat and poultry industry – and win,” said Meat Institute president and chief executive officer Julie Anna Potts. “As a result of the Administration’s diligent efforts, our beef producers will gain better access to a top market.”

The dispute began in 1989, when the EU banned imports of beef from cattle treated with hormones, a violation of internationally recognized sound science. The World Trade Organization (WTO) found in favor of the U.S. in its complaint against the ban, which paved the way for the U.S. to impose retaliatory tariffs. With threats of more tariffs, the EU and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009 establishing a duty-free quota for U.S. beef. Unfortunately, the EU did not honor the agreement by allowing other countries access to the market via the Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) quota, ultimately reducing U.S. market share.

In December 2016, the Meat Institute requested the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) take tariff action under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to enforce the WTO dispute finding in favor of the U.S. against the EU’s ban on the use of hormones in cattle production.  USTR imposed more than $100 million in tariffs on EU products. In August 2019, USTR negotiated an agreement with the EU establishing a duty-free tariff rate quota exclusively for the U.S.

USTR expects the EU to publish the regulations establishing the tariff rate quota for U.S. beef in the coming days.  Under the agreement and beginning January 1, 2020, the U.S. will be granted 18,500 metric tons (MT) annually out of a 45,000 MT quota, of which the U.S. country-specific share will grow to 35,000 MT annually over seven years.  Annual duty-free U.S. beef exports to the EU are expected to grow from $150 million to $420 million when the agreement is fully implemented.

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