To Ag or Not to Ag - EU/USA trade links from the US point of view | MED-Amin network |

By Ben Conner, USW Vice President of Policy, 13/12/2018.

To Ag. That is obviously the answer. The question is if the trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union should include agriculture at all. We already covered that in August after the two governments agreed to begin negotiations.

This week, the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on wheat growers’ priorities for the negotiations. One of the priority, of course, is that the negotiations should cover agricultural products like wheat. That would avoid running afoul of WTO rules requiring free trade agreements to cover substantially all trade. It would also avoid a likely quick death in the U.S. Congress should an agreement without agriculture be presented to it.

Assuming those issues are addressed, USW wants to see protective EU wheat tariffs eliminated. Most EU imports from the United States are duty-free, but only for wheat that meets certain quality thresholds. Full tariff elimination would benefit buyers in the EU who may see opportunities to import U.S. wheat with different qualities.

The most significant challenges U.S. wheat growers currently face in the EU are non-tariff barriers also designed primarily to protect EU wheat producers. Pesticide residue and plant breeding regulations, phytosanitary tests and labeling requirements can disrupt U.S. wheat imports and create additional market uncertainty. A comprehensive agreement with the EU is long overdue and should end this sea of troubles.