To boost the import of more US beef to Europe, Brussels has called on the 28 European Union member states to start negotiations with Washington.
Trade experts have already given their backing, ambassadors are slated to provide clearance on October 10 and the approval process is set to be completed next week, EU diplomats told the Reuters news agency.
The beef issue is officially separate from a pact reached by US President Donald Trump and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in July to try and ease trade tensions. Trump has pledged to reduce the United States’ $151bn goods trade deficit with the European Union.
According to Reuters, however, a deal to increase US meat imports would affect the trade balance, as well as placating the Trump base of U.S. farmers and rural communities which have been hit by the tit-for-tat trade war with China.
A negotiated agreement on beef would settle a decades-long dispute that started when the European Union banned the use of growth hormones in meat across the bloc, including imports.
The EU and the US eventually concluded an agreement in 2009 to grant a quota for hormone-free beef imports, which currently stands at 45,000 tonnes. But the US share of that quota has slipped from nearly 100% to less than 30% with Australia and Uruguay, and more recently Argentina, increasing their shares.