Food Law News - UK - 1999

19 July 1999: TRADE - UK Food Exports Escape Trade Sanctions

MAFF Press Release (252/99), 19 July 1999

UK Food Exports Escape Trade Sanctions

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown today welcomed the lifting by the US of threatened trade sanctions against British agricultural and food exports. At the same time he called for renewed efforts to end the dispute over veterinary restrictions which has caused sanctions to be imposed on the exports of other EU member states.

Mr Brown said:
"It is good news that all UK exports have been excluded from the final retaliation list. The business of many companies was being damaged by the threat of retaliation. That shadow has now been removed from sectors as diverse as pork ribs, cough drops, lanolin, chocolate, rusks, soups and mineral water. It will be a particularly welcome boost for the hard pressed pigmeat sector."

The Minister was commenting on the announcement by the US Government of prohibitive import duties on principally agricultural and food export from the EU worth $117 million dollars per annum. The retaliatory duties have been authorised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because of the EU's failure to lift its import ban on meat from animals treated with hormone growth promoters by the 13 May deadline set by the WTO.

Trade Minister Brian Wilson said:
"It is disappointing that the EU has been unable to reach an agreement with the US which avoids damaging trade sanctions although discussions with Canada are continuing."

Mr Brown added: "The aim must remain to reach a conclusion to this dispute which ends US retaliatory action all together. The UK will continue to work within the EU for a solution based on sound science."

A WTO ruling in 1998 found that the EU's ban on imports of meat from animals treated with hormones is inconsistent with WTO rules because it did not follow from a properly conducted risk assessment. The EU was given until 13 May 1999 to comply with the ruling. The US published a draft retaliation list for consultation on 22 March and Canada published one on 17 April. WTO arbitrators ruled on the level of authorised retaliation on 12 July, awarding US$116.6 million to the US and C$11.3 million to Canada.

The UK opposed the imposition of the hormone ban and has consistently voted against it on the grounds that it is not justified by the science. As new scientific evidence becomes available it is kept under review and independent UK scientists are currently studying the latest evidence in order to advise the Government on its implications.

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