Food and drink dominate USTR trade barrier list
By Brian Beary in Washington | Tuesday 03 April 2012
EU rules to protect animal and plant health remain a major impediment to US producers trying to export to Europe, new reports from the US Trade Representative (USTR) show
(1). Top of the list is restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) where “dozens of biotech product applications are backed up in the EU approval system” with no biotech product of commercial significance being approved for 12 years. Individual EU member states are the main culprits, the USTR believes, with the European Commission taking some steps to clear the blockages. A raft of barriers remains in other sectors too. The report highlights the 1997 EU ban on chlorine-washed poultry; EU bans on growth-promoting substances like ractopamine for pigs and hormones in beef; health warning requirements on food colourings; divergent EU and US regulations on maximum white blood cell counts in raw milk; and impediments on US shellfish exports. In the wine sector, the US objects to the EU’s seeking exclusive use of “so-called traditional terms” like reserve, classic and chateau, and the EU’s insistence that whiskey can only be labelled as such if aged for at least three years.
The reports catalogue non-agricultural trade barriers too: chemicals regulation REACH; confusion over how US biofuels exporters can get a “sustainable” certification; and market access problems for information technology products, pharmaceutical products, telecommunications services, legal services and government procurement. In 2011, EU goods exports to the US increased by 15% on the previous year to US$367.8 billion, while EU imports from the US increased by 12% to US$268.6 billion – a trade surplus of US$99.2 billion for the EU. n(1) Reports are available atwww.ustr.gov