EU food and agriculture imports may have to meet European standards

Food and agricultural products imported to the European Union may soon have to meet the EU’s health and environmental standards.

Food and agricultural products imported to the EU come primarily from Argentina, Brazil, China, Switzerland, Turkey, Indonesia, Ukraine, Ivory Coast and the United States.

Those countries would have to comply with the EU standards or see their trade disrupted. Cheyenne McEndaffer, the US Meat Export Federation spokesman, has expressed opposition to the EU’s idea.

“Under the World Trade Organization (WTO), applying EU standards or regulations to an importing country just for the sake of applying them without very clear, defined human or animal health risks are not compliant,” McEndaffer said.

“We (the US) have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but that’s really dictated by voluntary and commercial practices at the farm level, as well as a third party and regulatory standards at the slaughter plant level,” he added .

Farmers and ranchers in the United States and many European producers and exporters are expressing opposition to the EU’s plans. European exporters might face retaliatory duties if the WTO finds forced EU standards are non-compliant with trade agreements.

As for the EU, the 27 European member nations have maintained a trade balance in the agriculture and food sector since 2010.
Ukraine is traditionally one of Europe’s largest food and agricultural regions. Trade is currently in turmoil because of the war in Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia for the invasion.

One example of the tension between US and EU standards involves washing chicken in chlorine and other disinfectants to remove harmful bacteria.

A standard practice in the US, the rinse was banned by the EU in 1997 over food safety concerns. The European Food Safety Authority is not concerned about chorine but the production process as possible compensation for poor hygiene standards — such as dirty or crowded abattoirs.

The European Union (EU) consists of 27 Member States with approximately 445 million people.

EU members share a customs union, a single market in which goods can move freely, a common trade policy, and a common agricultural and fisheries policies.

The EU Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The United Kingdom left the European Union on Jan. 31, 2020.

Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, and Serbia are candidates to join the EU.

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