IDFA joined more than 60 other U.S. food and agriculture organizations last week in expressing support for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the organizations stressed the importance of basing regulatory negotiations on science and international standards and avoiding the inclusion of new barriers, such as geographical indications for names that are commonly used for many products.
The letter was prompted by the final report released last month by a working group appointed by President Obama and European Commission leaders in 2011. Tasked with identifying policies and measures that would increase U.S.-EU trade and investment, the group concluded that a broad bilateral trade agreement would be the best solution.
While agreeing with the decision to launch trade negotiations, the food and ag organizations questioned the working group's suggestion that the agreement should be designed to evolve over time.
"Clearly, an agreement that is allowed to evolve to meet new demands is welcome, but the idea should not be used as a means of avoiding critical decisions in certain areas," the letter said.
The organizations expressed concern that recent statements by EU officials raised doubts about whether the EU has genuine interest in dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues as part of the negotiations. SPS regulations must be addressed, and the provisions must be enforceable, the letter said.
Another area of concern is geographical indications. Noting "it's no secret" that the EU will seek restrictions on the use of names that are commonly use for many products, the organizations said the EU should not be allowed to use the free trade pact as a platform to promote GIs and other protectionist measures.
For more information, contact Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, at email@example.com.