Grassley Seeks Action to Open European Market to U.S. Beef Exports
Specifically, the Grassley resolution requests the EU to open its market immediately, in light of recent decisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) , and directs the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to take discretionary action if the EU fails to do so.
Grassley said his effort is in direct response to news reports that the European community is looking for ways around a decision last month of an appellate body which reaffirmed earlier findings of the WTO that the European ban on U.S. beef violates commitments made under the Uruguay Round Agreement. Grassley said that the appellate body's decision should clear the way for U.S. beef producers to sell their products in Europe.
"The EU ban against U.S. beef has been in place for nine years. It seems to me that the Europeans have had enough time. They add insult to injury right now by saying they need more time to ?study' the issue. American beef producers literally have lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to this unjustified ban," Grassley said. When the ban was put in place in 1989, U.S. producers were sending $100 million of beef annually to Europe. If the ban was lifted, it is estimated that beef exports would total about $250 million per year.
Grassley -- who serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade -- said that if the WTO is to have long-standing legitimacy as an objective arbiter of international trade disputes, "its decisions must be respected and complied with. We expect the Europeans to respect this decision, just as the United States has complied with the decision in the Kodak-Fuji case that went against us. We don't have to like the decision. But we do have to respect the dispute resolution process. We cannot stand by and let the WTO decision on U.S. beef be ignored," he said.
The dispute in question dates back to 1989, when the EU banned all imports of meat from animals treated with growth hormones. About 90 percent of U.S. cattle is treated with hormones, and they have been found to be safe in every country that has studied them. In fact, twice the EU commissioned its own scientists to study the hormones and found them to be safe. Grassley said, "To put these growth hormones in perspective, a person would have to eat 169 pounds of beef from an animal treated with a growth hormone in order to consumer the equal amount of that hormone present in one, single egg. They are completely safe for human consumption."
Even so, nine years ago the EU decided to ban this meat from coming into its market. At the time, there was little the U.S. could do to counter the ban. Trade representatives negotiated with the EU and even imposed sanctions, but nothing has worked.
Grassley said , then came the Uruguay Round Agreement. For the first time, members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreed to eliminate trade barriers not founded on a sound, scientific basis. "In other words, trade decisions would be made on sound science, not political science. Clearly, the beef ban was not based on sound science," Grassley said.
In 1996, the U.S. requested a WTO panel to determine whether the EU had breached the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of the Uruguay Round. In August 1997, the panel found in favor of the U.S. position and the decision was affirmed in January. So, Grassley said, the WTO has decided that the European's ban on U.S. beef violates the S/PS Agreement and must be removed immediately.
"This resolution says to the Europeans: open your markets. You've had your day in court, now it's time to abide by the judge's decision," Grassley said. "American farmers and ranchers deserve a fair chance to compete in the European market."
Rep. Jon Christensen of Nebraska introduced the same resolution today in the U.S. House of Representatives.