Genetically modified crops, chlorine-washed chicken, beef quotas and a fight over who can call Greek-style cheese “feta” all block the way towards the largest free trade deal.
US and EU negotiators will determine a list of sticking points this week in Washington during their third round of talks, and food issues are expected to be chief among them.
At a time of low economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic, EU-US free-trade negotiations seek to integrate two markets representing almost half the world’s economy in a sophisticated agreement going far beyond lowering tariffs.
But food is different and the old issues that have bedevilled many trade talks around the world are likely to complicate the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between Brussels and Washington.
The recently agreed EU-Canada free-trade talks dragged on for months before Brussels agreed to let in some 45 000 more tons a year of Canadian beef and 75 000 tons of pork free of tariffs. Even if just a fraction of the EU’s output of 7.7 million tons of beef and 20 million tons of pork, the imports will be high-value hams and hind cuts of beef, a lot for Irish and French farmers to swallow. A US deal would let in more.
Meanwhile, Europe takes a precautionary approach to food safety, making it difficult and time-consuming to clear new practices and to see products reach the mouths of consumers. – Reuters