EU drops lactic acid and live swine bans in advance of trade talks

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2013 - The European Union will begin to accept U.S. imports of live swine and beef washed with lactic acid, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), noted yesterday. Ambassador Siddiqui made his remarks at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Winter Policy Conference in Reston, Va.

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Siddiqui said the bans would be lifted on Feb. 25.

The export restrictions had been a point of contention between the European Union and the United States, especially since American beef export allowances were raised in July 2012 - and U.S. producers said they could not fill demand without lactic acid-washed beef. Though the EU had held that live swine and lactic acid-washed beef did not meet its hygiene qualifications, Americans long derided their objections as unscientific.

A USTR spokeswoman told Reuters that the office was “pleased” with the new regulations, but neglected to say whether they have anything to do with new trade talks between the United States and the European Union, also set to begin on Feb. 25. The EU, however, seems less reticent: “The United States had certain preconditions for talks to start,” said a senior EU diplomat. “We want to show them that Europe can deliver.”

Back in Reston, Ambassador Siddiqui praised the trajectory of American agriculture. “2013, based on the estimates by USDA's Economic Research Service - it's going to be another record-setting year, hopefully beating some world records,” he said.

He touched upon some of the agency's most recent accomplishments, including the reopening of the beef trade between Japan and the United States. Just last week, Japan agreed to import American beef made from animals less than thirty months old.

Siddiqui also stressed the importance of upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, set to begin in March. “TPP is a priority for the Obama administration's second term,” he said, noting that 40% of the world's trade and 50% of its economic growth now takes place in trans-Pacific countries.


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