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U.S. may restart hormone beef trade battle with the European Union

January 16, 2017

The United States announced recently that they may reopen the decades-old dispute on trade of hormone-treated beef with the European Union (EU).

The "beef hormone dispute" began to affect transatlantic trade in 1988, when the EU banned imports of beef from animals treated with growth-promoting hormones. In 1996, the U.S. and Canada, which were worst affected by the ban, challenged it before a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel and were subsequently authorized to impose trade sanctions on EU farm produce exports.

For several years Canada and the U.S. imposed retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of EU exports.

In a concession to put an end to the trade war, the European Union raised its import quota for beef from animals not treated with hormones to 48,200 tonnes of duty-free high-quality beef. The EU import quota increase was agreed in bilateral conciliation talks and memoranda of understanding with the U.S. and Canada and the two countries ended their retaliatory duties.

American farmers now claim the the agreement has not worked as intended. They claim that in recent years the U.S. beef industry has been prevented from gaining the intended benefits from the understanding because of increased imports under the duty-free quota from non-U.S. suppliers.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is consulting industry on resuming punitive duties against selected EU goods. USTR is particularly interested in comments addressed to the possible effects of reinstatement on U.S. consumers and small- or medium-sized businesses.

Link: USTR News Release

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