By / June 19, 2013

The Agriculture issue in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

In its Interim Report to Leaders, 19 June 2012 the Co-Chairs EU-U.S. High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth…

© mylisa / Fotolia
The Agriculture issue in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
© mylisa / Fotolia

In its Interim Report to Leaders, 19 June 2012 the Co-Chairs EU-U.S. High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth only mention their intention to agree on “An ambitious ‘SPS-plus’ chapter, including establishing a bilateral forum for improved dialogue and cooperation on SPS issues”.
In the Final Report from 11 February 2013, this idea is slightly developed: “An ambitious “SPS-plus” chapter, including establishing an on-going mechanism for improved dialogue and cooperation on addressing bilateral sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues. The chapter will seek to build upon the key principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS Agreement, including the requirements that each side’s SPS measures be based on science and on international standards or scientific risk assessments, applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health, and developed in a transparent manner, without undue delay.”

Another difficult topic in the regulatory debate is agriculture. Areas where EU and US views differ include EU measures on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormone-treated beef, pork fed with ractopamine or chlorine-washed poultry as unjustified scientifically and impeding US exports. Thus, one of the US objectives in the TTIP is to eliminate EU SPS barriers to US meat exports; yet, After a stock-taking meeting in February 2014 in Washington, the Trade Commissioner reassured that “There will be no hormone beef on the European market”, neither will EU law on GMOs not change as result of the talks.

EU geographical indications (GIs) such as parmesan or feta cheese are another potential stumbling block, as many in the US reject protection for EU GIs in TTIP

Negotiatiors, at the same time as recognizing a high amount of lobbying, also stated that these diffcult “issues are likely to be left for the end-game, as both sides prefer to discuss the most difficult problems at the very end of the negotiations”.


EU-U.S. Agricultural Trade and the TTIP / Cynthia I. Guven and J. Barrie Williams, USDA FAS GAIN Report E14009, February 2014, 13 p.The report comments on the process of EU negotiation of TTIP with the U.S. and briefly explains the procedure. Total bilateral trade between the EU and the U.S. is valued at around $30 billion. When included agricultural related products (ethanol, biodiesel, distilled spirits and fish and forestry products) the EU enjoys a $5 billion advantage. When calculated strictly agricultural products, the value of EU agricultural exports is $7 billion more than its imports from the U.S. The report describes EU-U.S. agriculture trade by selected MS

A Transatlantic Partnership : Agricultural Issues Different Visions, a Common Destiny / Eric Trachtenberg, Economic Policy Paper Series, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, October 2012, 26 p.
He mentions possible outcomes like: resolution of a significant number of sanitary and phytosanitary issues, the establishment of a Bilateral Scientific Dialogue on new technologies, mutual recognition for geographical indicators, elimination of all export subsidies etc..

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: The Economic Analysis Explained, EC, 30 September 2013, 18 p. : See 2.3 To what extent is agriculture a special case?, pp. 8-9

EU28 agricultural trade with the US 2013, DG AGRI


Promises and Perils of the TTIP: Negotiating a Transatlantic Agricultural Market / By Karen Hansen-Kuhn Dr. Steve Suppan, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 23 Oct. 2013
While there may be legitimate reasons for and benefits from regulatory coherence between the U.S. and EU, those discussions of public rules need to happen under conditions of full transparency and should not be subsumed within a trade agreement. The TTIP negotiations should result in an agreement that prohibits—rather than promotes—efforts by corporations to play off regulatory standards in one jurisdiction against the other. Those dialogues should hold open the possibility that the best avenues for progress could be outside the constraints of trade rules, as happened with the recent U.S.-EU agreement on organic standards

Cette note de 8 p. (juillet 2013) du Ministère français de l’agriculture, de l’agroalimentaire et de la forêt présente les grands traits de la production et de la politique agricole US, ainsi que sa position dans le commerce international (accords internationaux et bilatéraux) : Les politiques agricoles à travers le monde. Quelques exemples : Etats-Unis

L’agriculture française bénéficiaire de l’ouverture des marchés / Eric Adam, Telos, May 15, 2013

Shift In U.S.-EU Policies, Agriculture Trade Means NTBs Are Center Stage / Inside U.S. Trade, 04/12/2013

EU-US free trade deal could be costly / By Marcel Fratzscher, Financial Times, 21 February 2013 “The wrong signal is being sent at the wrong time, writes Marcel Fratzscher”

A Transatlantic Partnership : Agricultural Issues Different Visions, a Common Destiny / Eric Trachtenberg, Economic Policy Paper Series, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, October 2012, 26 p.
” While agriculture and food issues have long bedeviled the bilateral trading relationship, there is now a real chance to make headway. On issues such as import duties, geographical indications, non-trade concerns (NTC),1 export subsidies, domestic support, and food aid, it may be possible to find middle ground between the two sides. Even complex sanitary and phytosanitary issues such as meat market access or biotechnology may see progress with some creative thinking”

The European Union and the United States : conflicting agendas on Geographical Indications, NCTM & O´Connor European lawyers, 2013
This paper presumes knowledge of general background to the differences between the EU and the US in relation to Geographical Indications (GIs).

Stakeholder views

EU Institutions’ views

European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2012 on trade and economic relations with the United States
4. Stresses the importance of continuing with the strengthening of transatlantic economic relations, while supporting EU interests, in fields such as environmental, health and animal protection standards, food safety, cultural diversity, labour rights, consumers’ rights, financial services, public services or geographical indications, among others;

TTIP negotiations and their impact on agriculture / Written question E-003356-13, Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), 25 March 2013, with answer given by Mr Cioloş (22.05.2013)
This summer the European Union and the United States will initiate official discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with the aim of concluding an agreement by the end of 2014. The discussions are expected to focus on agricultural quota schemes and export subsidies, amongst other things. Can the Commission answer the following questions:
1. What additional objectives is it proposing with regard to the trade in agricultural products?
2. What will be the expected impact of the agreement on European agriculture?
3. What negotiating stance will the Commission adopt on genetically modified organisms?
4. What negotiating stance will the Commission adopt on compliance with environmental and animal welfare standards?

EU Will Not Change ‘Precautionary Principle’ Through Trade Talks: Official, Inside US Trade, 24 May 2013
“A senior European Commission agriculture official has said the European Union will not be convinced in upcoming trade talks with the United States to change its core risk management policy, known as the “precautionary principle,” but that it is willing to try and resolve individual trade irritants that stem from it.”

EU Will Not Change ‘Precautionary Principle’ Through Trade Talks, Inside US Trade, May 20, 2013
“The U.S. should not have “any illusions” that it will be able to get the EU to drop the precautionary principle through trans-Atlantic trade negotiations, especially given the fact that it is enshrined in EU treaties, said Joao Pacheco, deputy director-general at the commission’s Agriculture and Rural Development directorate.”

US-EU talks: Cuts both ways / Politi, James, The Financial Times, 17 April 2013, 7 p.

US Department of Agriculture

U.S. Says ‘Successful’ TTIP Deal Will Eliminate EU Barriers To Meat Exports / US Inside Trade, March 11, 2014

Agricultural Exports to the European Union: Opportunities and Challenges, February 2013
“Since 2000, global U.S. agricultural exports have increased 176 percent while exports to the EU have increased only 54 percent. Though U.S. exports to the EU rebounded in 2012 to $10.1 billion, they remain below the record level achieved in 1980”

Free-Trade Agreements: New Trade Opportunities for Horticulture / by John Wainio Barry Krissoff, USAD, April 09, 2013

U.S.-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement, 2012
A partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other’s markets

Agricultural Biotechnology Annual / USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 8/3/2012
European governments, societies, and industries remain conflicted about the use of genetically engineered (GE) plants in agriculture and food production. Public perceptions, commercial use, research, and even regulatory approaches vary among the European Union’s (EU) 27 countries. The EU approval system for GE crops remains politicized and operates at a slower pace than regulatory processes in GE producing countries

United States Trade Representative

2013 USTR Report On Sanitary And Phytosanitary Issues, 112 p., European Union is dealt with on pp. 43-52
“European Union (EU) measures governing the importation and use of GE products have resulted in substantial barriers to trade. Restrictions on GE products can result in import prohibitions on U.S.‐produced commodities and foods, as well as prohibitions on the cultivation of GE seeds”


Letter From 55 Senators To U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman And Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Inisde US Trade, 11 March 2014
asking himm to Work Aggressively’ Against EU Fight For GIs In TTIP”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Achieving the Potential Full Committee Hearing, Senate Committee on Finance, 10/30/2013
Witness Testimony
Ryan McCormick, President, Montana Grain Growers Association, Great Falls, MT
William Roenigk, Senior Vice President, National Chicken Council, Washington, DC

Congressional Research Service – CRS

The U.S.-EU Beef Hormone Dispute, Renée Johnson and Charles E. Hanrahan, 6 December 2010, 35 p.
“The United States and the European Union (EU) have engaged in a long-standing and acrimonious trade dispute over the EU’s decision to ban hormone-treated meat. Despite an ongoing series of dispute settlement proceedings and decisions by the World Trade Organization (WTO), there is continued disagreement between the United States and the EU on a range of legal and procedural issues, as well as the scientific evidence and consensus concerning the safety of hormone-treated beef”

Consumers’ views

Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) is a forum of US and EU consumer organisations which develops and agrees on joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and European Union to promote the consumer interest in EU and US policy making.

Revised resolution on food products from cloned animals, November 2008

Consumer Reports / Consumers Union is a non-profit organization best known as the publisher of Consumer Reports. Its’ mission is to “test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.”. They focus on policy issues related to telecommunications, mass media, vehicle safety, health care, product safety, financial services, investing, food safety, housing, and energy and utility deregulation.
The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals Threatens Public Health, 11/10/12

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1968 to advance consumer interests through research, education and advocacy. According to CFA’s website, its members are approximately 300 consumer-oriented non-profits, which themselves have a combined membership of 50 million people. It is generally regarded as liberal in the modern American sense of the term, and is associated with the consumer movement.
CFA Comments on Petition Before FDA to Label Genetically Modified Food, 11/23/11
CFA Comments on Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals, 11/24/08.

Producers’ views

47 Food, Ag Groups Call On USTR Nominee Froman To Address Precautionary Principle In TTIP, 23 May 2013

American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU) has an EU-US Task Force.

EU-US TF – AmCham EU’s reply to USTR’s Request for Comments Concerning Proposed TTIP, 21 May 2013, 46 p. (see SPS measures pp. 10-14)

Discriminatory taxation of food and beverages is ineffective and distorts competition, 6 November 2012, 11 p.
AmCham EU is concerned about discriminatory taxes applied to the food sector for the following reasons:

  • Food and beverage taxes generate competitive disadvantages;
  • Food taxes are regressive in nature and hit lower socio-economic groups hardest;
  • There is no evidence demonstrating a positive impact of food taxes on the ‘healthiness’ of people’s diets;
  • Punishing specific food products alone would not automatically lead to the elimination of bad diets and lifestyles; and
  • Food taxes hit companies that produce locally and could discourage investment in Europe by both European and non-European companies. 

AmCham EU Position Paper on Agricultural Biotechnology, 19 November 2009, 7 p.
Regulatory & trade harmonisation: approve products with positive scientific assessments

  • WTO compliance: lift Member State and regional bans on approved biotech crops
  • Sustainable agriculture: establish practical, workable, national cultivation guidelines for approved crops
  • Freedom of choice: allow European farmers to plant approved biotech crops if they so wish, and to offer consumers the ability to access both genetically modified and non genetically modified products, and thus exercise choice.

American Farm Bureau Federation
Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Launch of U.S.-EU Trade Negotiations, February 13, 2013

The Consortium for Common Food Names supports proper geographical indications (GIs) – names associated with specialized foods from regions throughout the world. But it opposes any attempt to monopolize common (generic) names that have become part of the public domain. The Consortium seeks to foster the adoption of an appropriate model for protecting both legitimate geographical indications and generic food names.

Europe’s Fanaticism on Protected Food Names Sours One Country’s Entry into the EU, May 20, 2013
CCFN and Allies Urge U.S. White House to Handle EU GI Discussions with Care, January 9th, 2013

COPA-COGECA. EU agri-food chain organisations call on negotiators to resolve key non-tariff measures during TTIP negotiations (3 p.) + Annex (Key Non-Tariff Measures, 26 p.), 30 September 2013

Un groupe d’experts vient d’être constitué (janvier 2014) afin de conseiller la Commission dans ses négociations. La personne représentant les intérêts du secteur agricole est Pekka Pesonen, secrétaire général du COPA-COGECA.


La sécurité sanitaire des aliments dans l’accord de libre-échange UE-États-Unis : une réflexion plus globale, GRAIN, 10 décembre 2013, 8 p.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted comments today on a possible Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union and sent a letter to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative,10 May 2013

USA Poultry & Egg Export Council & U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)

U.S. Meat Groups Demand Progress In TTIP, Poultry Groups Criticize USTR, Inside U.S. Trade, 05/17/2013
Meat Groups Demand Solution For Thorny SPS Problems In U.S.-EU FTA / Inside U.S. Trade – 11/09/2012

Overcoming the Thorny Issues in Agriculture” / Washington International Trade Association (WITA), TTIP Series: Panel 1, 17-May-1

“Agriculture is a big hurdle in the world’s largest free-trade agreement […] Yet closing a deal will require tackling what has long been one of the most fraught elements of the EU-US commercial relationship: agriculture. The US and EU have waged epic trade battles over hormone-treated beef, chlorine-rinsed chicken and genetically modified organisms, among others. What one side views as a legitimate health concern, the other tends to see as a trade barrier.”

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