Trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union remain ongoing as representatives continue to work through the details. One of the major points of contention between the two countries is the topic of agriculture. European trade officials have previously noted that agricultural products were not going to be negotiated as part of a trade agreement, while a bipartisan group of U.S. legislators remains adamant that agriculture needs to be included in any kind of EU trade deal.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a group of 114 lawmakers is demanding that the Trump Administration remain committed to keeping agriculture on the negotiating table. “As you know, agriculture is the source of a great number of trade barriers and irritants in the U.S.-EU trading relationship. Thus, an agreement with the EU that does not address trade in agriculture would be, in our eyes, unacceptable,” the letter stated. “We were deeply disappointed that the European Commission’s draft negotiating mandates specifically excluded agricultural products and that Commission officials continue to state publicly that they will not discuss agriculture in the negotiations.”
The letter that was organized by House Republicans Jackie Walorksi and Virginia Foxx, as well as House Democrats Ron Kind and Angie Craig, was ultimately signed by 93 Republicans and 21 Democrats. Speaking during a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing, Ambassador Lighthizer acknowledged there is significant work to be done in the negotiations. “The United States can’t have a trade agreement with Europe that doesn’t deal with agriculture, and their view is that they can’t have one that does, so we’re at a stalemate and we’ll see how that develops,” he said.
A group of more than 50 farm organizations also sent a letter to Ambassador Lighthizer back in December citing the importance of equitable terms for agricultural products in an EU trade deal. “Our trade deficit in food and agricultural goods with the EU has ballooned from $1.8 billion in 2000 to nearly $11 billion last year. This is not because European consumers do not want American products. It is because EU tariffs and non-science-based regulations deny consumers a choice,” the letter noted.