Grassley Demands Focus on Agriculture
Grassley, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, said these reports are shocking because unfair barriers to U.S. agricultural exports represent the most significant market access problems that the United States currently faces in Europe.
"A broad trans-Atlantic trade agreement must require the European Union (EU) to remove the barriers that it imposes on U.S. ag exports. The outstanding agricultural trade disputes that the U.S. currently has with the EU represent a substantial obstacle to a comprehensive trade agreement between our two continents," Grassley and Brownback wrote.
The letter to Barshefsky detailed the "staggering number" of agricultural trade disputes that the U.S. has right now with the EU. Grassley and Brownback noted that:
- Even though the World Trade Organization ruled that the ban imposed by the EU on hormone-treated beef was an unfair barrier to trade, the EU has decided that it wants to "study" the issue further.
- The EU has failed to implement the bilateral agreement on veterinary equivalence standards even though the pact was supposed to enter into force on October 1, 1997.
- The agreement regarding "specific risk materials" for meat products also was supposed to enter into force last year, but it hasn't even been concluded.
- The EU has hindered trade in genetically-engineered crops. And,
- Outstanding disputes remain with EU subsidies for dairy, wheat gluten and canned fruits.
The bottom line, according to Grassley is that "USTR should not move forward with any negotiations regarding a comprehensive trans-Atlantic trade agreement unless agriculture is a top priority."