AGRIBUSINESS: Agricultural Groups Welcome U.S.-EU Trade Talks

A coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council today praised the Obama administration for launching negotiations with the European Union (EU) on a transatlantic free trade agreement (FTA) and for its insistence that the agreement be comprehensive and ambitious.

In a letter signed by 64 organizations sent to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the coalition said any FTA with the EU “must fit the excellent model established with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) … This means no less than a negotiation that covers all significant barriers in a single comprehensive agreement.”

The coalition expressed concern, however, with a trade working group report that suggested an initial U.S.-EU FTA be designed to “evolve over time,” eliminating most barriers to trade and investment but setting up a mechanism to address other barriers.

Recent statements from EU officials, for example, have raised doubts about the EU’s commitment to dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues as part of the negotiations.

SPS issues must be addressed as part of the negotiations, the coalition wrote, not simply left to some future consultative mechanism, and SPS provisions must be enforceable.

The coalition pointed out that a comprehensive and ambitious U.S.-EU FTA will generate economic growth, reduce market volatility and create thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.