The European Union (EU) remains adamant in excluding agriculture from any type of free trade agreement while President Donald Trump continues to voice support for EU trade negotiations to incorporate ag products. The EU announced that two directives had been approved which will allow negotiations for a trade agreement with the United States to officially begin. One of the points open to negotiation is the adjustment of tariffs on industrial goods and the other is the simplification of the process for companies to demonstrate products meet U.S. and EU standards.
“The Europeans have said that agriculture will not be a part of any free trade agreement. The U.S. is saying well that is a nonstarter; so, it’s not starting,” Senior Vice President in Charge of Operations for Riceland Foods Inc Terry Harris said during part of a webinar series produced by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “The EU has significant protective tariffs on most agricultural products, so trying to get fair access to this market is huge and assuredly needs to be part of any FTA that’s negotiated. So, the path to any agreement does not look like it’s going to be either quick or smooth.”
The EU trade negotiations will have a significant impact on California growers, as the EU is the biggest export market for the state’s ag products. Collectively, the EU and the U.S. are each other’s largest trading partners with trade between the two countries accounting for 30 percent of overall global trade. President Trump has not been the only one in Washington calling for the inclusion of agriculture in a trade deal with the EU.
“Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the EU,” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.”