WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013- Biotechnology and a beef cattle disorder known as BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) are among the most commonly referenced issues foreign countries use to build unscientific barriers for U.S. exports, according to a Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Barriers to Trade released today by the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

“Some U.S. food and agricultural exports are subject to similar unwarranted SPS barriers in multiple markets,” noted the report. “This year’s SPS Report describes these cross-cutting trade barriers and the efforts the U.S. Government has made to remove them.”

The top leading barriers to U.S. exports arise in connection with: export certification requirements, agricultural biotechnology, BSE, Avian Influenza, and maximum residue levels for pesticides.

“Some governments impose SPS measures that are disguised protectionist barriers to trade, not grounded in science,” stated the report. “For example, many countries have used the threat of AI or BSE as a reason to block U.S. poultry and beef exports, respectively, ignoring international science-based standards that establish appropriate measures for addressing those diseases.”

USTR also released a Report on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) today, along with the annual National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report that identifies foreign barriers to American exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment, and protection of intellectual property rights. Marantis sent each report to President Barack Obama and to Congress. All three reports include trade barriers broken down by country and are available here.

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said U.S. negotiators successfully removed specific SPS barriers in El Salvador, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan to exports of U.S. beef. He added that the report highlights an opened European Union (EU) market to exports of beef treated with lactic acid; resolved barriers to U.S. exports of paddy rice and poultry products to Colombia; improved market access for U.S. cherries entering Korea; and access into China for certain pears grown in the United States.

“On behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers, we will continue to eliminate unwarranted barriers that obstruct the sale of high-quality 'Made-in-America' products overseas,” Marantis said in a statement. “And we will maintain our vigorous efforts to ensure a level playing field for U.S. goods and services in markets around the world.”

Some of these barriers include biotechnology regulatory requirements, for example. According to the SPS report, China bans imports of pork containing any residue of ractopamine, a feed additive for pigs and other livestock. “The United States strongly disagrees with China’s assertions that there are serious concerns about the safety of ractopamine,” states the report. “China has not responded to repeated U.S. Government requests for risk assessments that support such concerns.”

Another substantial barrier to trade is the European Union’s trading position regarding biotechnology. “Even when the EU approves a particular GE product, EU biotechnology legislation provides that individual Member States may invoke their own bans under a socalled ‘safeguard clause’,” explains to USTR.

At the end of 2012, 72 GE product applications were pending approval in the EU system. The EU approved only six GE products in 2012, with an average processing time of 40 months. “In addition, the EU has not approved for cultivation a single GE product of commercial significance to the United States in over 12 years,” noted the report.


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