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Defending Agriculture in T-TIP


U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, led 26 Senators in sending a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, urging a strong framework for American agriculture in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). The 13th round of T-TIP negotiations started Monday in New York.

“America’s farmers and ranchers feed the world. Let them do so without senseless barriers and tariffs,” said Chairman Roberts. “U.S. agriculture’s market share in the European Union is shrinking, and we cannot let that continue to happen. If T-TIP is truly to be a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement, agriculture trade issues must be addressed before negotiations conclude.”

“American made and grown products are the best in the world,” Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said.“While it’s understandable that other countries may not want to compete against us, that does not mean they should be able to unfairly target our products. With a shrinking market in the EU for American agricultural products, it’s important that our trade negotiators take steps now to reverse this trend and address issues facing American farmers and ranchers.”

Senators signing the letter include: Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; David Perdue, R-Ga.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; and Mark Warner, D-Va.

The following is the text of the letter sent, April 22, 2016:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) presents the United States with the opportunity to break down barriers and grow exports for agriculture in one of our most significant trading markets. The European Union (EU) is the world’s top importer of food and agriculture products, yet the U.S. market share is increasingly deteriorating due to tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. In 2015, the U.S. had a $16 billion surplus in agricultural trade globally, yet in the EU, U.S. agricultural exports saw a record $12 billion trade deficit.

A final agreement that does not include a strong framework for agriculture could have a negative impact on Congressional support for this deal. It is imperative that tariff elimination on all products – including beef, pork, poultry, rice, and fruits and vegetables – remain a priority. The EU must be willing to work towards liberalization in all sectors of agriculture. A premature conclusion of the T-TIP negotiations threatens to undermine the negotiating position of the U.S. in resolving long-standing regulatory barriers such as hormone use in U.S. beef, maximum residue limits in fruits and vegetables, and dairy certification requirements.

In 2014, two bipartisan letters from U.S. Senators urged you to fight against geographical indication (GI) restrictions promoted by the EU. The EU has continued to use Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with trading partners to impose barriers on U.S. exports under the pretense of protecting GIs. This practice is undermining established FTAs as well as those being actively negotiated. To date, there has not been assurance the T-TIP negotiations are addressing these concerns.

Finally, EU members continue to miss key deadlines for import approvals of biotechnology products. Approvals of some products have been delayed even after positive evaluations by the European Food Safety Agency, and currently there are at least three products that have been awaiting import approval since 2011 and 2012. The inability to implement existing regulations and provide certainty based on sound science related to agriculture policies raises questions about the success of new obligations and commitments established in the T-TIP.

If the T-TIP is to achieve the robust support of the agriculture industry, including America’s hard working farmers and ranchers, agricultural trade issues must be addressed before negotiations conclude. We strongly urge you to continue to fight for a T-TIP agreement that prioritizes U.S. agriculture, including the removal of non-science based regulatory barriers and the reduction and removal of tariffs on agricultural products.

Source: Morning Ag Clips

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