United States resumes a trade beef with the European Union

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2016 5:40 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is resuming a trade fight with the European Union over barriers to American beef exports.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is threatening to bring back tariffs — covering EU exports to the U.S. of truffles, Roquefort cheese and other products — to pressure the EU into ending a ban on U.S. beef treated with hormones.

The EU maintains that the ban reflects health concerns about hormone treatments. The U.S. sees the ban, which effectively bars most U.S. beef, as an unfair trade barrier.

In 1998, the World Trade Organization ruled against the EU, and the U.S. imposed tariffs. When a compromise was reached in 2009, the U.S. suspended the tariffs. But the Americans say the deal hasn't worked.

"There is no doubt that American beef products are safe," said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. "The 20-year EU ban has been in effect far too long. It is not based on fact and should be lifted."

The EU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two sides hoped to resolve the dispute in a trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. But progress on that pact has stalled amid a political backlash against free trade on both sides of the Atlantic. So, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said in a statement, "it is now time to take action."