EU Offers More Beef Imports to End Hormone Dispute

Aim is to end a long-standing disagreement that has hampered U.S. exports to the European market.

The European Commission is offering to double the preferential quota for beef imports from the United States as part of a deal to end a long-standing dispute over beef trade. Since 1988, the EU has refused to accept beef from the U.S. that may have been treated with growth-promoting hormones.

Last week Washington officials, according to wire reports, said they would hold off on applying new retaliatory duties on EU products while negotiations in Brussels continue. The EU has lost disputes at the World Trade Organization over the beef import ban, but still refuses to accept product. This move could open the door to more beef exports to that market.

However, the plan by the EU executive does not include lifting the embargo which EU officials still maintain is based on scientific advice and is not protectionist. Instead, the move is designed to get more U.S. producers to export "normal-treated" beef in return for the U.S. ending sanctions.

In essence, the ban on hormone-treated beef will not end, but verified non-hormone treated exports to the region could rise.

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