In a letter sent earlier this month to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, IDFA and 59 other business groups said any U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union must be comprehensive and include agricultural issues. The coalition's letter came in response to recent media reports that raised doubts about the EU's intention to deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues as well as other non-tariff barriers that currently block U.S. food and agricultural exports to the 27 countries.
The broad-based coalition acknowledged that a well-crafted and properly implemented U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement would generate economic growth and create thousands of jobs in both countries. The group warned, however, that the EU currently is excluding agricultural products produced by EU member countries from agreements with other trading partners. The EU negotiating strategy of excluding competitive food imports would significantly undercut any benefit to the U.S. agricultural sector from an FTA with the E.U. The group also said that the EU has not included a way to address regulatory measures that conflict with U.S. interests and World Trade Organization rules.
"The EU has sought the inclusion of language on geographical indications (GIs) that would grant it exclusive rights to certain product names that have been widely used outside of Europe for many years," the letter said.
"This objective was reinforced by the EU Parliament, which made U.S. acceptance of EU GI policy an expressed element of its approval of the talks with the United States.
"We cannot help but be skeptical that the EU is prepared to undertake a U.S.-style comprehensive negotiation and to include the agricultural sector in a truly positive manner."
The business group called for a comprehensive approach that would align with the high standards currently being pursued in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and serve as a template for the bilateral agreement.
For more information, contact John Kelly, IDFA manager of international affairs, at email@example.com.