Commission to look again at US quota

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Last week member state representatives gave the European Commission authorisation to renegotiate the terms of the global Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for hormone free beef.

The TRQ permits 45,000 tonnes of hormone-free beef product into the EU with no import duty levied. Originally, it was put in place to allow access for US beef after an US-EU WTO dispute over the EU’s ban of hormone growth promoters. Overtime other countries – primarily Argentina, Uruguay, and Australia – have exported to the EU under this quota. The US has voiced strong discomfort with this, indicating that it could impose other trade restrictions on EU products.

The EU will therefore enter into negotiations with the US, and the other interested countries, seeking to ring-fence an amount – reportedly 35,000 tonnes – exclusively for US beef. The commission and member states have stressed that this renegotiation will not lead to an increase in the overall amount of US product entering the EU. The talks can begin once this mandate is agreed at political level by EU trade ministers.

UK farming unions call for access to UAN fertiliser to remain open

The UK farming unions called upon the European Commission to not impose new anti-dumping duties on imports of urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) from the US, Russia and Trinidad and Tobago at a hearing last week in Brussels. In August 2018, the commission opened an investigation after a campaign by the fertiliser industry to be afforded extra protection from imports. There are divisions among the European fertiliser industry as not all European companies support this move. Working with farming organisations including the Irish Farmers Association, French cereals producers, the European farmers’ organisation, Copa, the UK farming unions called for the market to remain open to imports.

The commission has just eight months to consider both sides’ views and come to a decision under the EU’s new trade defence instrument rules.

Unfair Trading Practices proposal goes before Agriculture Committee

This Monday evening, the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development will vote, in Strasbourg on Italian MEP Paolo De Castro’s (EU socialist party) proposal on Unfair Trading Practices in business-to-business relationships in the food supply chain. The file was brought forward by the commission in April 2018 with the aim of prohibiting certain practices that are considered to be unfair to suppliers and to put them at a disadvantage in the food supply chain.

The UK farming unions in Brussels have long been proponents of regulation at EU level, and welcome Mr De Castro’s proposal to widen the scope to include all businesses regardless of size (the commission proposal focuses only on SMEs) and to include non-food agricultural products such as flowers and ornamental plants.