US Trade Representative is considering the reinstatement of tariffs

John RoyleI read with interest over Christmas that the US Trade Representative (USTR) is considering the reinstatement of tariffs on a range of EU products, including beef, sheep meat, pork and poultry. 

This follows pressure from the US beef industry, which has become increasingly frustrated over the way Brussels manages the 45,000-tonne high-quality beef quota, also complicated by the long-running dispute over the use of hormones in the US beef sector.

Although the deal was reserved for US hormone-free beef, the quota was extended to five other countries – Canada, Australia, Uruguay, New Zealand and Argentina. With competition, US exporters have seen their share of the quota eroded. As a result, the USTR said it intended to implement 100% import tariffs on some products from the EU, including beef, sheep meat and pork.

Interestingly, Annex 2 of the Federal Notice lists a raft of EU products “initially subject to increased duties”, but doesn’t list the UK as one of the countries this applies to – perhaps because we do not currently have access to the US for beef and sheep meat.

However, with Brexit – and subject to successful inspection and negotiations with the US authorities– we might be able to strike up our own deal, without the 100% tariffs imposed on our EU competitors. No doubt product would go both ways, but access to the US market at zero or low tariff is an opportunity we and the government should explore.

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