Manufacturers react to announcement on US free trade negotiations


(Brussels, 15 February 2013) Following the announcement by EU and US to launch talks on a ‘Comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’, FoodDrinkEurope, as the body representing Europe’s food and drink manufacturers, welcomes the intention to focus on regulatory issues in the future agreement.

The United States is the biggest export market for European food and drink products, amounting to €12 billion. Almost 60% of EU exports correspond to trade in drinks, followed by dairy, vegetable oils and chocolate. In addition, the US is the third most important source of food imports to the EU (after Brazil and Argentina) and a key supplier of soy, cereals and animal feed for EU livestock production.

Reacting to the announcement, FoodDrinkEurope President Jesús Serafín Pérez said: “Europe’s largest manufacturing sector strongly believes that the success of the negotiating process will depend on its capacity to tackle regulatory barriers. FoodDrinkEurope looks forward to actively engaging with all concerned parties to ensure the delivery of a trade deal which will create real growth opportunities for Europe’s food and drink industry. However, to ensure that progress on ‘behind-the-border’ issues is achieved, the EU should foresee a review clause as included in the mandate for negotiations with Japan.”

For the EU food and drink industry, regulatory barriers remain the biggest obstacle to trade with the US. The negotiations should focus on delivering solutions to existing problems that hinder EU exports and should also help to avoid any new barriers, especially in the context of the US Food Safety Modernisation Act. Facilitating EU imports from US through recognising the need to adopt a technical solution for low level presence of genetically engineered crops that have been approved in US but not yet in EU could also significantly contribute to a mutually beneficial trade deal.