U.S. Secretary of Agriculture recently highlighted some of the trade barriers that need to be resolved in an effort to forge an agreement with the European Union (EU). During a recent trip to Europe which included stops in the Netherlands and Belgium, Secretary Perdue highlighted sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) as an issue that still needs to be addressed before an agreement between the EU and the United States can be achieved.
“I think initially we’re looking at SPS issues of which there’s a pretty significant list. We think they can get very close to equalizing our trade balance between the two entities if they do that,” Perdue noted. “I think we’re very close to resolving those SPS issues from our perspective and I think that would be probably part of an agreement that we could come to an agreement about if we saw any kind of reciprocity on the part of the Europeans. “
One of the particular issues that the EU appears to have in regard to SBS concerns relates to how the U.S. sanitizes chicken. Perdue noted the U.S. protocol for treating chicken is a widely used method and American consumers do not appear to have any kind of issue with it. “We believe that the pathogen reduction treatment that we use – peracetic acid – is a very safe product that’s acknowledged worldwide,” said Perdue.
Another factor that appears to be one of the more significant trade barriers between the two parties is the issue of geographical indicators. Perdue highlighted the early settlement of the U.S. as having many Europeans immigrants who brought their language and terms for certain products with them, which have become the standard. “We feel like they are generic in scope and have no basis in trademarks or those kinds of things. They obviously feel differently and have tried to promulgate that around the world with their free trade agreements,” said Perdue.
While there are still some issues that will need to be addressed before moving forward with any type of agreement, Perdue was optimistic about the progress that is being made. “I was encouraged to see that the president of the EU and our president, President (Donald) Trump, were conversing and friendly regarding a ‘weeks, not months’ timeline on EU progress,” Perdue noted.