Hormone-treated beef set to be a flashpoint between EU and US
Beef has become an unlikely first flashpoint between the EU and US, following the election of Donald Trump as president.
The EU has hit back at US threats to slap tariffs on European products in a row over hormone-treated beef.
An EU spokesperson said the move - threatened by the US trade office just before Christmas - would mark "a most unfortunate step backwards" in transatlantic relations.
The US is Ireland's single biggest export partner and any action could affect Irish exports to the country, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, drinks or medical instruments.
The row stems from a long-standing EU ban on hormone-treated beef from the US.
The ban has been in place for around 20 years, and led the US to sue the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
That case resulted in a 2009 deal with the EU agreeing to a hormone-free beef quota of 62,660 tonnes in carcass weight equivalent.
But the US says that agreement is not working as it should. "The EU's ban on US beef is not based on sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers, and producers," the US trade department said in December.