In a letter sent to Senate Finance chairman Max Baucus last week, senators Chuck Grassley, Pat Roberts, Mike Enzi and John Thune said the US exporters faced a “wide range of barriers from EU nations”, including “unjustifiable restrictions” on production methods for pork, beef and poultry.
The letter pointed out that Congress had not passed legislation establishing trade promotion authority, which would authorise a “fast track” for trade agreements and ensure trade negotiators had a framework of priorities to follow.
“Since we have not been afforded the opportunity to set our trade priorities through debate and passage of trade promotion authority legislation, we want to express one of our main priorities for any trade agreement this administration pursues – the lowering of trade barriers for American agricultural products,” it said.
“As the Obama administration continues to discuss the possibility of trade agreement negotiations with the EU, our trade negotiators must push for the lowering of barriers EU member states have raised against American agricultural products.”
The senators also asked for a hearing to be set up with US negotiators to discuss progress on EU trade discussions to date.
“Our trade negotiators must demand of EU officials that barriers to US agricultural products be addressed in any potential trade agreement. To that end, we request you call a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee and invite our trade negotiators to testify regarding their working-group efforts with the EU,” said the letter.
“It is important we know where the discussions with the EU stand, and what exactly has been discussed regarding barriers to agricultural products, so we can determine for ourselves whether the administration is adequately addressing this key trade priority.”