EU to Allow More Import of U.S. Beef

The European Union is preparing to allow in more tariff-free U.S. beef in an attempt to avoid a full-blown trade war. This move comes in tandem with high-level diplomatic missions from French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington this week, as both leaders try to dissuade President Donald Trump from slapping tariffs on Europe’s steel and aluminum producers on May 1, POLITICO Europe’s Hans von der Burchard and Jakob Hanke report.

Trade-offs with Trump: An EU concession on beef could go a long way toward appeasing Trump, who has made clear that Europe has “unacceptable” barriers to trade.

“Our farmers can’t send their product into the European Union as easily as they should. And we accept their products. So we have to make a change, and they understand that,” Trump said during Macron’s visit on Tuesday.

Efforts to open up Brussels to more U.S. beef predate Trump’s threat of steel and aluminum tariffs, but a senior EU official said that the prospect of an agricultural offer to Trump was “a very convenient coincidence of events.”

What would change: EU would have to alter a 2009 agreement, under which Brussels allowed the U.S. to export an annual quota of about 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef without paying duties. America’s share of the EU beef market fell from 98.8 percent in 2009 to only 32.6 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

European ag groups don’t mind: European agriculture associations – usually no fans of talks on beef – are largely supportive of tweaking the quota. Europe’s farm lobbies don’t mind tipping the balance as long as the overall quota stays at its current level, and hormone-reared beef remains banned.


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