US poultry imports to resume

EU officials have confirmed poultry imports from the US into the European Union (EU) are expected to resume this summer following a decision to end a 10-year ban

European Commission officials have confirmed poultry imports from the US into the European Union (EU) are expected to resume this summer following a decision to end a 10-year ban, based on health concerns about antimicrobial agents used by American producers.

The Transatlantic Economic Council, an informal regulatory body set up to facilitate trade and investment between the EU and US, is due to rule in June that US poultry exports should be allowed into the EU. The body thrashes out detailed solutions to trade problems impeding transatlantic commerce.

The council is co-chaired by EU industry commissioner Günter Verheugen, who has discussed the matter with his US counterpart in recent weeks. The European Commission is expected to back the decision at the June meeting of the council: "We are moving in that direction," said Ton van Lierop, the Commission's enterprise and industry spokesman.

The ban looked set to be scrapped in 2005, when the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said the use of such agents, designed to rid US poultry of salmonella, did not threaten consumers' health.

However, the resumption of imports has been held up by opposition from European poultry farmers, who have claimed that they have to meet tougher health standards than US producers.

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