Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Is Trump about to put a 100% tariff on Irish beef?

Image: PA News
Image: PA News
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) will hold a hearing in Washington this week to discuss applying a tariff as high as 100pc on a host EU products, including Irish beef.

It comes as newly-elected US President Donald Trump's highly protectionist agenda looks to have already called time on a host of high-profile trade deals including TTIP.

One news outlet in the US has said the tariff could be as high as 100pc.

Documents seen by ahead of the hearing on Wednesday, which will look at the possibility of imposing a tariff on certain imported products, including beef, called for submissions on the situation and received over 11,500 responses prior to the deadline.

Significant efforts have been made by successive Irish Governments to export Irish beef into the US and in 2015 Irish beef was back on the menu in the US, with the first shipments arriving in time for St Patrick's Day.

At the time, the then Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the US market could be worth €100m per annum to Irish beef exports.

Now, the US says it is taking this action against what it calls the European Union’s unfair trade practices, which it says discriminate against the US beef industry.

It says the EU’s ban on hormone-treated US beef is not based on sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers, and producers. The US National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the US Meat Export Federation wrote to the Office of the US Trade Representative before Christmas calling for and end to tariff concessions on EU exports and said that the US domestic beef industry would benefit from such a move.

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The ban has been in place for around 20 years, and led the US to sue the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU bans the import of beef and beef products produced from animals to which any of six hormones have been administered for growth-promotion purposes in the US.

That case resulted in a 2009 deal with the EU agreeing to a hormone-free beef quota of 62,660t in carcass weight equivalent. But the US says that agreement is not working as it should.

Other EU products under consideration for the imposition of increased duties include Roquefort cheese, hair clippers and Vespa scooters.

The European Commission had argued that this issue should be resolved through TTIP.

However, given that European officials decided after their trade minister's meeting in September not to complete TTIP this year, the US has decided that now is the time to take action.

The US beef industry exports an average $6 billion per year. These exports produce an estimated $7.6 billion in economic activity and support 50,000 jobs in the US.

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