EU-US trade talks move forward: Trump brings a basket of tasty chicken

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EU US trade talks
EU ambassadors issue approval for trade negotiations with Trump administration

Brussels cleared the hurdle Thursday for launching trade talks with the United States No waiting for Brexit for your CHLORINE CHICKEN

It’s been two years since the suspension of the highly controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), EU member states and the European Commission are squaring up for round two in new trade negotiations with the US. To start on Monday

Almost a year after EU leaders first offered a limited trade agreement to U.S. President Donald Trump, the bloc’s ambassadors reached an “agreement in principle” on negotiating directives that authorize the European Commission to start talks. EU ministers are set to issue the formal approval Monday, without any discussion.

France had raised objections until the last moment.

With next month’s European Parliament election looming, President Emmanuel Macron feared that the talks would revive a politically toxic trade debate that plagued previous negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The Commission hopes to avoid such controversy by keeping the new trade deal simple: It’s mainly supposed to eliminate industrial tariffs — promising almost equal gains on both sides — while excluding any talks on the contentious area of agriculture and food standards. EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström is holding out hope that such a limited agreement could be “quite quick” to negotiate.

Trump, insist, its a basket of tasty Chicken for all.

President Trump wants to use the talks to slash America’s $150 billion trade deficit with the EU, and insists that Brussels must also open up its agricultural market and lift trade barriers such as a ban on American hormone-treated beef. On Thursday, in true Trump style he launched a fresh attack, accusing the EU of being “a brutal trading partner.”

For now, the main hope seems, indeed, to be that launching negotiations will help stabilise the strained economic relations between Brussels and Washington.

What it could mean to UK consumers if we remain in the EU 

CHLORINE CHICKEN AND ACID-WASHED MEAT

In the US it’s perfectly legal to “wash” butchered chicken in strongly chlorinated water and to spray pig carcasses with lactic acid. Abattoir companies present these as belt-and-braces methods of reducing the spread of microbial contamination from the animal’s digestive tract to the meat.

There are also concerns that such “washes” would be used by less scrupulous meat processing plants to increase the shelf-life of meat, making it appear fresher than it really is.

If the EU were obliged to accept chlorine chicken and acid-washed meat from the US, this would not need to be flagged up on product packaging because these washes and sprays would count as “processing aids”, which don’t need to be labelled.

HORMONE AND ANTIBIOTIC GROWTH PROMOTERS

The EU has a general ban on the use of synthetic hormones to promote growth in farm animals because the European Food Safety Authority says that there isn’t enough data to fully assess potential human health risks, such as increased cancer, and early puberty.

In the US, synthetic hormones are considered safe, and intensively reared beef cattle and dairy cows are often implanted with them. Pigs are also treated with the beta-agonist drug Ractopamine, which has hormone-like bodybuilding effects.

Globally, there is heightened awareness that the overuse of antibiotics in farming is encouraging the emergence of bacterial infections in animals and humans that are resistant to key groups of these vital drugs. The latest data shows that 75% of medically important antibiotics in the US were given to farm animals. In the UK, the equivalent amount is lower (40%), largely because EU farmers have not been allowed to use antibiotics to make their animals grow bigger more quickly – or produce more milk.

Once a EU-US trade deal was signed, US meat processors would be likely to see big opportunities to get their pork – and to a lesser extent, their beef – into the EU. These imports would probably be purchased by processed food manufacturers. And as their multi-ingredient products don’t have to list the country of origin of individual ingredients, there would be no sure way of avoiding eating milk or meat produced to less exacting US standards, unless you never ate processed food.

ANIMAL BYPRODUCTS FED BACK TO LIVESTOCK

Powerful US meat and grain corporations want the EU to drop restrictions on animal byproducts (abattoir offcuts and waste) in animal feedstuffs, arguing that it is a barrier to trade aimed at protecting our internal market. The American Feed Industry Association has already challenged this EU rule on the grounds that its industry experienced a 62% drop in exports over the past decade because of it.

The practice of feeding slaughterhouse byproducts, such as brains and spinal cord, back to animals in their rations can result in outbreaks of livestock diseases: swine fever, foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease. It is thought to be the most likely cause of in humans.

The EU’s willingness to accept imports of animal feed manufactured with animal byproducts (and GM soya) was established two years ago when the trade talks where placed on hold.

TTIP reloaded: big business calls the shots on new EU-US trade talks

“We will hopefully have less tweets and unilateral actions, and more of a constructive debate between both sides,” said Luisa Santos, director for international relations at BusinessEurope, Europe’s largest business lobby.

“This could be a good vehicle to let the steam off.”

EU diplomats and Commission officials have outlined a negotiating approach under which the talks could be conducted in stages, with both sides first concentrating on the less controversial areas, such as the removal of tariffs for industrial products — an area where they had already made lots of progress in the TTIP discussions.

Let’s get the elections out of the way before we hit the voters with the beefy steroid burger  

The understanding in Brussels is that U.S. demands on agriculture could be potentially addressed at a later stage, provided that the Americans lift their steel and aluminium tariffs, renounce the car tariff threat, and come up with a counteroffer such as on public procurement.

CARS, FARM PRODUCTS IN OR OUT?

The Commission has repeatedly said it will not discuss tariffs or barriers to trade in farm products, but is willing to discuss cars, setting it on a possible collision course with Washington.

The Trump administration has a wide-ranging wish list, including comprehensive agricultural market access.

Diplomats say Germany, whose exports of cars and parts to the United States are more than half the EU total, wants to press ahead with talks to ward off tariffs on carmakers Volkswagen, Mercedes maker Daimler and BMW.

France, with very few U.S. car exports, had been seeking to push the issue beyond the European Parliament election in May, convinced that dealing with Trump is not a vote winner.

The U.S. Trade Representative has meanwhile proposed targeting a list of $11 billion worth of EU products for tariffs, ranging from large commercial aircraft to dairy products and wine, as retaliation against European subsidies for Airbus. A final list is expected this summer.

The European Commission said it had started to draw up plans to retaliate over subsidies for U.S. planemaker Boeing.

Both sides have won partial victories at the World Trade Organisation in claiming the other’s planemaker received unlawful subsidies but disagree on the amount involved and whether each has complied with earlier WTO rulings.

Some analysts see the aircraft dispute as the start of a tit-for-tat conflict to which Trump could add auto tariffs by mid-May.

Read more on TTIP reloaded LINK

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