WASHINGTON (B)--Representatives for U.S. beef and banana producers and industries stressed June 1 that with a new trade retaliation law on the books the United States should crank up the pressure on the EU to open its borders to U.S. beef and drop its banana license regime.
The representatives told reporters that so far the U.S. Trade Representative has been unsuccessful in significantly harming the EU's trade balance in retaliation for the EU's ban on U.S. beef containing growth hormones and its policies that shut out U.S banana exporters such as Chiquita Brands International. They said they hope that will change now that USTR has been granted the power to rotate the list of EU products that are being targeted with higher U.S. tariffs.
However, the ability to rotate the list is not enough, said Charlie Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau
He stressed that USTR must take great pains to analyze which products on its retaliation lists can "maximize the impact" on the EU.
To get that "maximum impact" Kruse said USTR must equally punish all 15 EU members, not concentrate on one or two as it has done in the past.
"It is not as much the products as it is the countries," he said.
Steve Warshaw, chief operating officer for Chiquita, said he has been informed that USTR is now performing economic analyses in order to know how best to adjust its retaliation strategy.
USTR announced recently that it will unveil changes to its attack on EU exports by June 19.
The World Trade Organization ruled in 1997 against the EU's policy that favors banana trade from former African and Caribbean colonies over Latin and Central American producers. The WTO ruled against the EU ban on U.S. beef in the same year.
In 1999 WTO agreed to allow the United States to retaliate for both trade violations with increased tariffs on $191 million worth of EU products for the banana case and $117 million for the beef case.
"We are not saying (carousel retaliation) is guaranteed to work," said Len Condon, a vice president for the American Meat Institute. "The current system is guaranteed not to work."
EU officials have already raised protests to the new carousel approach, claiming it is illegal under WTO rules.
Kruse said those complaints are hypocritical because the EU has used the same type of retaliatory trade method in the past, albeit not as part of dispute under the WTO.
When asked if he believed the new carousel approach would be successful in forcing the EU to open up trade restrictions, Chiquita's Warshaw would say only, "It is all we have."