WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump announced on Friday the signing of an agreement with the European Union that will increase US beef exports.
“A wonderful day, and a wonderful deal for a lot of people. Today, we’re signing a breakthrough agreement that will make it easier to export American beef into the European Union,” Trump said in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
“This is a tremendous victory for American farmers, ranchers, and, of course, European consumers, because American beef is considered the best in the world,” the president said.
The EU ambassador to the United States, Stavros Lambrinidis, said he hoped the deal would strengthen trans-Atlantic relations.
“The agreement that we signed today shows us, as partners, we can solve problems. And as partners, together in the spirit of this partnership, we can also try to shape a world that is based on strong, open values and strong, open rules,” the EU envoy said.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said in June that Brussels and Washington had agreed on a deal allowing US producers to sell substantial quantities of hormone-free beef to Europe.
“In year one, duty-free American beef exports to the EU will increase by 46 percent,” Trump said, outlining the terms of the pact.
“Over seven years, they will increase by another 90 percent. In total, the duty-free exports will rise from $150 million to $420 million, an increase of over 180 percent,” the president said.
Also present for the occasion were US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, EU representative Jani Raappana, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven and the leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the United States Meat Export Federation.
A day after announcing a new set of tariffs on Chinese imports, Trump concluded the event with a quip about imposing duties on European cars.
“And we’re working on deal where the European Union will agree to pay a 25 percent tariff on all Mercedes-Benz’s, BMWs, coming into our nation. So, we appreciate that. I’m only kidding. They started to get a little bit worried,” the president said, referring to the EU officials in the room.
Thirty years ago, the EU imposed an ostensibly temporary ban on imports of hormone-treated beef from the US. The exclusion was made permanent in 2003.
The US responded by asking the World Trade Organization to rule that the EU was violating international norms.
The dispute dragged on for years until the US and EU reached an agreement in principle in 2009, leading ultimately to the accord signed Friday.