Getting Tough Against EU’s Politically Based Ban of U.S. Poultry

By October 8, 2009Regulations, Trade

The National Association of Manufacturers very much appreciates the quick, forceful action today by the Administration, led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to respond to U.S. industry’s call of just two weeks ago for confronting the European Union’s unjustified ban on U.S. poultry.

The NAM was the only broad U.S. trade and industry group to join with our domestic poultry industry on September in a letter to Ambassador Kirk urging the U.S. Government to request formation of a formal Dispute Settlement panel in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to pursue a WTO legal judgment against the EU’s blatant politicization of food safety. Today, the USTR made that request. (USTR news release.) We are delighted with Ambassador Kirk’s leadership and support from around the Administration to attack this 12-year-old problem.

NAM has long led the outcry from U.S. industry confronting the EU’s abuse of the regulatory process. Science is clearly on the side of US industry.  This EU ban on US poultry is all about Euro-politics and protecting a less-competitive European poultry industry.  Unfortunately we see the same abuse of sound science from the EU to keep other U.S. agricultural products, from advanced biotechnology products to beef, which have been proven to be safe out of the European markets. Food safety regulations in Europe, the United States or anywhere else around the world need to be based on sound science, as specified in WTO rules, not on politics.

The United States has been more than patient on this long-running and very painful poultry problem. At the US-EU Summit in 1997 under President Clinton, leaders from both sides of the Atlantic agreed to resolve this problem. Five years later at another U.S.-EU Summit, President Bush and his EU leader counterparts agreed to take on two knotty food standards issues — access for Spanish Clementine oranges into the U.S. market and, yet again, access for U.S. poultry into the EU markets. Within six months, the U.S. had addressed its issues related to Clementines, and the fruit came flowing back into the U.S. market. But, alas, yet again there was no progress on U.S. poultry from our EU counterparts. Action to remove this unjustified, non-scientific ban is long overdue. Moving to the Panel stage at the WTO, unfortunately, seems to be the only option available to the U.S. industry and government.

No one, certainly not the NAM, likes to see formal dispute settlement cases launched in the WTO, especially against such an important partner as the EU. But after twelve years of inaction, our EU partners have left us no other option. The NAM joins our member companies and the U.S. poultry industry in commending Ambassador Kirk and the Administration for this strong action to enforce U.S. trade rights. We look forward to working closely with USTR throughout the WTO process.

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(Shaun Donnelly is the NAM’s Senior Director for International Business Policy)

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