Agri-food chain reps call on negotiators to resolve non-tariff measures in TTIP negotiations


Copa-Cogeca and FoodDrinkEurope, EU agri-food chain organisations representing European farmers, agri-cooperatives and food and drink manufacturers, welcome the launch of the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. This agreement provides a unique opportunity to eliminate unnecessary regulatory obstacles, which is a key priority for the European agri-food industry.

EU agri-food chain partners together generate a turnover of €2.2 trillion and provide direct employment to 33.6 million Europeans[1]. The industry produces safe, high-quality agricultural commodities and processed food products for over 500 million consumers in the EU, as well as exporting products to more than 200 countries worldwide.

The EU and US markets are already highly integrated. The US is the first export market for

European food and drink products (€13.6 billion), the second largest export market for European agricultural commodities (€4.4 billion) and the third largest supplier of agricultural raw materials to the EU (€2.1 billion)[2]. Non-tariff measures, such as excessive administrative burdens, create unnecessary costs, which directly impacts on the competitiveness of EU agri-food exporters and negatively influences the potential of bilateral trade. Since US tariffs on most EU agri-food products are already relatively low, we believe that the biggest gains will come from resolving regulatory obstacles in a mutually beneficial manner.

TTIP negotiations on non-tariff measures should therefore focus on the following key objectives:

REGULATORY COOPERATION: Through close regulatory cooperation, the EU and US should resolve any horizontal, animal or plant-related non-tariff measures that distort trade – be it through equivalence, mutual recognition or harmonising standards. At the same time, both parties should respect each other’s level of consumer, environment and health protection.
INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS: Although EU agri-food exporters comply with international standards, exporters are too often confronted with excessive US domestic controls and costly procedures. Recognising international standards, supported by scientific evidence, could provide significant mutual trade benefits.
REGULATORY COHERENCE: Negotiations should also address the concerns of EU agrifood exporters about the differences between US federal and state legislation. The key aim here should be to simplify the overall framework by closer aligning legislation across the different US States.
TRADE FACILITATION: Providing clear and in depth information on customs cooperation, transit, pre-shipment inspections, customs brokers and consularisation charges is fundamental to making the movement of goods more efficient and less costly.
TRIANGULAR TRADE: The EU and US should agree on effective mechanisms to avoid triangular trade.
NEW BARRIERS: It is particularly important that no new regulatory barriers are introduced through the implementation of the US Food Safety Modernization Act or by any other means.

Please find attached a comprehensive technical annex with a detailed list of US non-tariff measures that are of concern to EU agri-food exporters, including recommendations for trade negotiators.

Our sectors are in favour of comprehensive negotiations and call on negotiators to deliver an agreement which provides concrete solutions to non-tariff measures and practical ways to make the EU and US regulatory systems more compatible, whilst respecting the high level of health and safety standards applied by both parties.

The agreement will only provide a win-win solution if even the most complex regulatory issues are addressed in a satisfactory manner for small, medium, and large-sized companies. We also call on negotiators to focus on substance over speed.

EU agri-food chain partners look forward to working with the EU and US authorities as the TTIP negotiations move forward.

[1] Regular agricultural workforce of 27.6 million (Eurostat 2007), 4.2 million jobs in the food and drink industry and 1.8 million jobs in wholesale of agricultural and food products (Eurostat 2010)

[2] Eurostat-COMEXT 2012

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