NCBA applauds USTR action in beef hormones dispute
NCBA applauded the United States Trade Representative decision to modify the list of European Union goods subject to increased tariffs in the ongoing trade dispute over beef treated with growth promotants.
NCBA has been working closely with industry and USTR for the past several years to resolve this dispute to the satisfaction of U.S. beef producers. In comments to USTR, NCBA vigorously advocated this action as a means to promote a resolution of this long-standing trade dispute. "There has been very little progress in removing the EU's unscientific ban," explained Andy Groseta, a rancher from Arizona and NCBA president. "NCBA encouraged these tariff modifications in the hopes that renewed pressure would urge a resolution to this dispute. This decision is not meant to erect more barriers to trade--it is meant to remove them."
"The new products subject to retaliatory tariffs have great economic and political significance to the EU," said NCBA Chief Economist Gregg Doud. "We hope this will substantially increase the pressure on the EU to reverse its unfair trade policy."
As recently as Oct. 16, 2008, the World Trade Organization Appellate Body confirmed that the U.S. has the right to continue imposing retaliatory sanctions until the dispute over the EU ban on hormone-treated beef is resolved. The EU has been unable to scientifically justify the reasons for imposing this unfair trade barrier, which has been in place for more than 20 years. The WTO has ruled multiple times that they have failed to satisfy the requirements of the WTO agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This was the first case heard by the WTO and it is still unresolved.
Doud explained why new action is needed: "The WTO ruled that this ban costs the U.S. more than $116 million in trade each year, but that doesn't take into account the many new nations that have since joined the EU or the increase in demand we have seen globally." Doud continued, "A seismic shift occurred in 2003 when the EU went from a net exporter of beef to a net importer. Today, the EU imports almost as much beef as the U.S. exports to the entire world. The potential market for U.S. beef in Europe could be substantially higher without this trade barrier."
Numerous U.S. and international scientific studies have shown that the hormones used in beef production are safe. "The U.S. produces high-quality, safe, wholesome, affordable beef which is in great demand worldwide," said Groseta. "We follow strict, science-based guidelines for trade, and we expect our trading partners to do the same."
The growth promotants used in cattle production are vigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration for safety--both for the animals' well-being and for the trace amounts that may be in meat consumed by humans. The hormones, many of which occur naturally in other foods, have all been scientifically proven safe.
"The scientific questions have been asked multiple times and the answer is always the same," said Doud. "U.S. beef is safe." He continued, "The EU is the only entity that bans the use of these hormones. Our other trading partners all recognize the safety and quality of our products, which is why we are seeing increased demand for U.S. beef in countries around the world. Without this trade barrier, we would no doubt see similar gains in Europe."
Growth-promoting hormones help stimulate growth by increasing the efficiency in which feed is converted to muscle. Certain products, when administered to animals in very small amounts, supplement cattle's natural hormone production and improve growth rates by allowing the animal to produce more muscle and less fat. This helps the industry produce leaner beef for consumers.
Groseta added, "It is unfortunate that American cattle producers are being hurt by this dispute. Trade adds approximately $180 to each head of cattle marketed by U.S. producers. NCBA will continue our work to remove barriers to trade and allow our producers to sell U.S. beef around the world."
The full list of EU products subject to tariffs in this dispute is available online at: http://www.ustr.gov/assets/Document_Library/Federal_Register_Notices/2009/January/asset_upload_file64_15289.pdf.