The Trump Administration included a range of agricultural demands in its list of formal objectives for trade talks with the European Union. That list came out late last week when EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was in Washington to visit with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Malmstrom reiterated last week that the EU will not be negotiating on agriculture. However, Reuters notes that if a wide-ranging trade deal is to be accomplished, something will have to give. The administration wants to bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural goods that are a result of European skepticism about American agricultural practices, especially biotechnology. Agriculture has been a big sticking point in recent attempts to establish a trade deal between the U.S. and EU.
Malmstrom told reports after the meeting with Lighthizer that the parameters of the discussions haven’t been decided yet. The USTR push to crank up full-fledged negotiations comes after a meeting in December with ag groups that pushed hard for their products to be included in the discussion. Now that the U.S. objectives have been made public, the USTR could be ready to start negotiations as soon as 30 days from now.
The European Union’s executive body is supporting Poland’s slaughter of wild boars as a way of protecting farm pigs and meat production from the deadly African swine fever.
The government’s decision to shoot some 200,000 wild boars this hunting season has drawn wide public protests but veterinary and Polish environment officials insist it’s an approved method.
Massive boar hunts are planned for remaining weekends this month.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission, Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said Friday in Brussels that properly done, the shooting of wild boars, which spread the virus, is one of the ways of stopping the disease.
The disease, which is spreading in eastern Poland, threatens Europe’s pork industry.
Poland Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski noted that Germany killed over 800,000 wild boars last year as a precaution.
While U.S. soybean sales to China suffered in 2018, they’re making some headway across the Atlantic Ocean. On the 50th anniversary of the soybean industry’s development efforts in the European Union, the United States has outpaced Brazil as the number one supplier to the continent.
The website U.S. Soy Dot Org says America is also the top soybean supplier to the Middle East and North Africa. Farmers and industry officials say the challenge is to make sure the growth that began as a result of the trade dispute with China keeps going in the right direction. Brazil soybeans are currently fetching a big premium. Government data says Brazil soybeans are getting $89 per metric ton more, on average, than U.S. oilseeds were last month, due to Chinese demand. A drought also dramatically cut production and meal output in Argentina, the world’s top exporter in 2017.
As a result, U.S. soybeans and meal exports are up 243 percent and 105 percent, respectively, to Europe and the Middle East/North Africa regions. Countries like Egypt, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and many others have either increased their soybean purchases or have become new customers.
The European Union parliament this week approved the EU-Japan trade agreement. The agreement removes tariffs on 97 percent of European exports, with agriculture exports seeing significant tariff reductions. The pact will enter into force Feb. 1, 2019. In addition, the 11 nation CPTPP regional trade agreement will come into effect on December 30 with a second round of tariff cuts coming again on April 1, 2019. In 2016, Japanese consumers purchased almost $1.6 billion of U.S. pork products. With the CPTPP deal and the EU-Japan trade pact in place, U.S. pork is at risk of losing market share in one its largest export markets. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to expeditiously negotiate a trade agreement with Japan to avoid market share loss.