EU-US trade deal could prove lucrative for red meat

A potential free trade agreement between the EU and US could lead to millions of pounds of exports to countries around the world.

The EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has the potential to bring many benefits to the beef and lamb sector.

The potential of the trade agreement was raised by head of trade development for Eblex Peter Hardwick at a meeting chaired by Food and Farming Minister David Heath and Cabinet Minister Kenneth Clarke.

There will be two sets of negotiation rounds to see how to tackle different regulations, standards and certifications. The first round took place in Washington DC in July and the second is due to take place in Brussels in October.

Estimations indicate that an agreement could lead EU companies to sell a further €187bn worth of goods and services a year to the US.

Hardwick said: “We have a responsibility to help drive the efficiency and profitability of the beef and lamb sector and anything that affects that is relevant to us. The EU-US TTIP is a potentially positive move for the sector and we were delighted to be invited by Ministers Heath and Clarke to discuss the opportunities that the partnership could present, ahead of the second round of negotiations.

“At the same time, we need to highlight the risks of significantly reduced tariffs and increased access to the EU without full regard to the effect this might have on our own producers, who operate with higher regulatory costs in areas such as animal welfare, the use of hormones, GM and environmental legislation.”

Hardwick explained that for the beef and lamb sector, issues regarding technical barriers on ruminants need to be resolved and the implications the agreement could have for relationships with third country markets.

“However, to give some perspective, these are complex matters that don’t get resolved in the blink of an eye. Should an agreement be reached, it would allow us to enter into a process with the US authorities to secure individual plant approval for exports. As it stands, there are currently no USDA-approved beef plants in the UK and exporting to the US will therefore not be immediate. A key issue to be resolved will be recognition of equivalence on plant standards,” he added.
Heath explained that a new trade and investment partnership is “immensely important” for the future of the UK food and drink sector. “With almost €2bn traded between us every day already, it could be the biggest trade deal in history. A new deal needs to keep regulations to a minimum and remove the barriers which prevent our farmers and producers from tapping into the huge US market,” he added.