IDFA, along with 52 other groups representing the entire U.S. food and farming sector, sent a letter this week to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stressing that free trade agreement negotiations between the United States and the European Union (EU) must address agricultural issues. An agreement that eliminates tariffs on agricultural products and other trade barriers would cause an exponential increase in U.S. food and agriculture exports, create new jobs and eliminate the trade deficit in food and agriculture that the United States has with the EU, the groups said.
The groups submitted the letter in response to the EU’s stated reluctance to address agriculture in the trade discussions. In July Mina Andreeva, a European Commission spokeswoman, said the EU would not consider agricultural products in the scope of the bilateral agreement.
The groups said that the EU is reluctant to address agricultural issues because it would require lifting import barriers that protect EU farmers and removing regulatory measures that are politically expedient but scientifically unjustified or overly restrictive.
“Our trade deficit in food and agricultural goods with the EU has ballooned from $1.8 billion in 2000 to nearly $11 billion last year. This is not because European consumers do not want American products. It is because EU tariffs and non-science-based regulations deny consumers a choice,” the groups said.
The groups called for Ambassador Lighthizer to continue to insist that tariff and non-tariff barriers must be removed on food and agricultural products during his discussions with EU officials.
“We urge you to continue stressing to them that only a truly comprehensive agreement will be acceptable to the administration and, ultimately, to the U.S. Congress. This message must be communicated clearly and urgently. If the EU wishes to conclude a trade agreement that addresses inequities in trade between us, such barriers and measures that restrict U.S. agriculture’s access, as politically difficult to discuss as they may be, must be included as part of negotiations and successfully addressed in a final agreement,” the groups said.
Read the letter here.
For more information contact Beth Hughes, IDFA senior director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.