U.S. beef producers gained a two year extension of zero-duty access to Europe’s market for high-quality, hormone-free beef. Shipments between August 2012 and July 2013 were worth approximately $212 million. The agreement was signed Monday in Geneva by Deputy U. S. Trade Representative Michael Punke, Lithuanian Ambassador Albinas Zananavičius and EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis.
Under the extension, the EU will maintain its duty-free tariff rate quota for high-quality beef until August 2, 2015. The quota originally was established pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States of America and the European Commission Regarding the Importation of Beef from Animals not Treated with Certain Growth Promoting Hormones, at the Phase 2 quantity of 45,000 metric tons per year.
The original MOU was signed in 2009 in connection with the United States’ long-running dispute with the European Union over its ban on beef from cattle treated with certain growth-promoting hormones.
The USDA’s foreign Agricultural Service forecasts global beef production to increase in 2013, but North American beef production to decrease in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Cattle inventories are expected to decrease in the U.S. and Mexico as well. Slight increases in head count are expected in Canada, which on Monday signed a free trade agreement with the E.U.
Year to date, U.S. beef exports are 12 percent lower than 2011 levels. Of major customers, Mexico is down 21 percent, Canada down 17 percent and South Korea down 26 percent. These declines are partially balanced by increased imports to Japan, Russia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.