(Posted Wed. Feb 20th, 2013)

Feb. 20: While trade talks between the United States and European Union have yet to begin, the National Corn Growers Association, along with many other agricultural trade associations and members of Congress, are working to ensure U.S. agricultural interests receive proper attention in any final agreement. For NCGA members, the most obvious challenge is approval of corn and corn products derived through biotechnology. The EU is a market that holds great potential, however, that potential is often overshadowed by delays in approvals and regulatory decisions dictated by political pressure and not science-based evaluations.

“Completing a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union has gained national attention, and we want to reassure farmers that NCGA is raising the concerns of America’s corn farmers with our trade negotiators,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. “Improving our country’s trade ties with the EU can mean more jobs and economic opportunities here at home. We are encouraged that our negotiators want to take advantage of this historic opportunity to expand markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers and to tear down barriers which currently impede our agricultural exports.”

On February 12 during his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that his Administration plans to notify Congress of its intent to launch negations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. This decision aims to improve the economic relationship between the United States and European Union and add to the more than 13 million American and European jobs already supported by transatlantic trade.

While agricultural trade associations had a positive reaction, they cautioned that the EU’s long-standing sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agriculture exports must be addressed. Obama administration officials have pledged that they will work to eliminate the European Union's trade barriers on meat and genetically engineered crops before a U.S.-EU trade agreement is completed. On February 13, administration officials indicated that negotiations will have no upfront exclusions and will attempt to achieve a comprehensive deal across all sectors over the course of the next 18 months.

Following the State of the Union address, the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth released its report to the public. The final report includes a recommendation for chapters on SPS and TBT regulatory issues that go beyond World Trade Organization principles.

Click here to view the report in its entirety.

To view the U.S. Trade Representatives fact sheet on the talks, click here.