Negotiators should work toward comprehensive U.S.-EU free trade agreement that addresses agricultural barriers, National Assn. of Wheat Growers, U.S. Wheat Associates, nearly 40 agriculture groups say in open letter

Andrew Rogers

Andrew Rogers

Mar 22, 2012 – National Assn. of Wheat Growers (NAWG)

WASHINGTON , March 22, 2012 (press release) – Negotiators should work toward a comprehensive United States-European Union free trade agreement that addresses agricultural barriers, NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and nearly 40 other agriculture groups wrote this week in an open letter.

The letter was issued in response to two recent reports calling for the creation of what one called a “barrier-free transatlantic market,” achieved piece-meal, with easier negotiations moving forward more quickly than issues that might create conflict.

The agriculture groups decried this approach and pushed back on the thinly-veiled reference to agriculture as one of the “difficult issues that [has] proven intractable in the past.”

The groups said such an approach would nearly guarantee negotiation would speed up for issues on which there is more apparent agreement while other portions of the talks would languish, leaving some trade barriers unresolved in perpetuity.

The U.S. agriculture community has supported the negotiation of a transatlantic deal that would reduce the EU’s myriad restrictions on U.S. products, many due to sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, and encourage the EU to accept science-based risk assessments.

A U.S.-EU deal could also set a precedent for an even larger trade deal, either by creating a framework that could expand to include additional countries or by setting a template for future, worldwide negotiations.

“This plan is bold only on paper,” they wrote. “In fact, its basic premise is that it is better to do whatever we can as soon as we can rather than the most that we can.”

The groups writing this week also asserted that agriculture is not an intractable negotiating area, noting successes in the World Trade Organization’s Uruguay Round and agriculture negotiating challenges in the Doha Round that did not center on the U.S. and EU.

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