- The United States and the European Union
are heading for another trade row, this time over beef.
- The European Union has announced it will
be ban all beef imports from the United States.
- Beef from cattle fed on hormones has
been banned by the European Union since 1988 on the grounds that it is
- But now the EU says it cannot be sure
that beef certified as hormone-free by US inspectors does not contain the
banned substances - so it will ban all beef from 15 June.
- The move came as members of the World
Trade Organisation (WTO) met in Geneva to consider a request by the United
States to overturn the ban entirely.
- The United States and Canada have already
secured a ruling from the World Trade Organisation that Europe that the
original ban on hormone-fed beef is illegal under international trade law.
It says that there is no scientific basis for the ban.
- The EU has until 13 May to comply with
- "We are disappointed to see that
once again the EU is failing to meet its WTO obligations," U.S. trade
ambassador Rita Hayes told the meeting.
- The United States and Canada have threatened
to introduce sanctions against EU products if no agreement is reached.
- EU Trade Commissioner Leon Brittan said
that he was 'anxious to engage in urgent discussions to resolve this issue
- Recent talks have centred around how
North American beef entering the EU should be labelled in order to ensure
consumers have enough information to make an informed choice.
- Hormones are widely used in US agriculture,
but the EU says it is still studying the scientific evidence on their safety.
- EU Ambassador Roderick Abbott told the
meeting that the Europeans had wasted no time in beginning a risk analysis,
but conceded the work might not be complete by the May deadline.
- Former Tory trade minister Lord Young
warned the Institute of Directors on Wednesday that a 'crisis' was brewing
the US-EU trade relations.
- "We might see this as a health risk
but Washington will see this as a pure protection. We are turning Europe
into Fortess Europe for Food," he said.
- The total amount of US beef sold in Europe
is only $20m - but any questioning of its safety is seen as a threat to
the massive US agricultural export sector.
- Trade wars escalate
- The trade wars between the United States
and Europe have been escalating.
- Last month the US introduced sanctions
against a range of European products in order to force the EU to agree
to import more 'dollar bananas' from Central America.
- There are also flashpoints over aircraft
noise, with the EU threatening to ban US aircraft engines fitted with hush-kits
from European skies.
- Although the EU and the United States
are each other's biggest trading partners, the growing imbalance in world
trade is leading to tensions.
- The US is running a huge trade deficit
with the rest of the world, and has said that it cannot continue to bear
all the costs of the world's economic slowdown.