With EU Trade Talks Next Week, Cantwell, Crapo Seek to Expand Access for American Apples and Pears
Apple and pear exports to Europe dropped 73% over past 5 years; bipartisan effort seeks to expand market access
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Obama Administration prepares for trade talks set to begin next week with European authorities, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) are leading a bipartisan letter urging the administration to prioritize reducing trade barriers pear and apple growers face in European markets.
U.S. and European trade officials completed the first round of talks in July on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to boost trading between U.S. and European markets. The next round of talks is set to begin on November 11 in Brussels, Belgium and the third round is scheduled for December 16-20 in Washington, D.C.
Senators Cantwell and Crapo led a letter last week with seven of their colleagues to Ambassador Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative, calling for talks on the TTIP to work to improve the terms of access for U.S. apple and pear exports to Europe. In the letter, the senators note that different standards on regulations in Europe have unfairly disadvantaged U.S. agriculture produce like apples and pears.
“The erosion of the European market for U.S. apple and pear exports is largely the result of different regulatory standards and requirements for pesticides and food additives,” the senators wrote in the letter to Ambassador Froman. “Under the European Union’s (EU) precautionary principle, rules and procedures often diverge from the science-based, cost-benefit analysis approach of the United States, limiting our nation’s agricultural exports to Europe. The TTIP efforts must address the existing market access issues and make establishing a level playing field for our agricultural exports a top priority.”
Cantwell and Crapo were joined on the letter by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).
“The TTIP negotiations present a great opportunity to remove barriers to trade in the European Union that impact the sale of Washington state's apples and pears,” said Mark Powers, Vice President of the Northwest Horticultural Council. “We thank Senator Cantwell for her leadership in seeking improved access to the market in Europe.”
“All markets are vital to apples and all of the commodities grown in Idaho and it is important to keep these markets viable,” said Candi Fitch, Executive Director of the Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association. “This market will benefit our producers and handlers and we appreciate Senator Crapo’s efforts to improve trade. Idaho produces about 75,000,000 pounds of apples valued at about $24,000,000.”
Fitch said that many thousands of workers are also engaged in the growing and peak harvesting of Idaho fruit.
The senators noted trade data shows that apple exports to the European Union dropped 73% from the crop in 2006 to 2012. They also noted that pear exports to the same region have dropped 73% from 2009 to 2012, in total the drop adds up to $33 million per-year in lost export revenues.
Washington state’s apple industry was the number one commodity in the state in 2011 and was valued at more than $1.8 billion. The state produces over 60 percent of the total apple crop in the U.S. Washington state’s fresh pear industry supports 7,267 full-and part-time jobs and 2,834 are directly tied to fresh pear exports.
Full text of the letter follows.
Dear Ambassador Froman:
We write today regarding the importance of specific agricultural interests in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As the negotiations proceed, it is imperative that our agricultural interests are given a top priority in the negotiations, particularly as they relate to the treatment of apple and pear exports.
Trade data over the past few years indicate that exports of United States’ apples and pears to the European Union are in steep decline. The volume of apple exports dropped 73% from the 2006 crop to the 2012 crop, while pear export volume declined 73% from the 2009 crop to the 2012 crop. Together, the decline in apple and pear export volume equates to a $33 million per-year loss in export revenue.
The erosion of the European market for U.S. apple and pear exports is largely the result of different regulatory standards and requirements for pesticides and food additives. Under the European Union’s (EU) precautionary principle, rules and procedures often diverge from the science-based, cost-benefit analysis approach of the United States, limiting our nation’s agricultural exports to Europe.
As we engage with the EU in these talks, it is important that the sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports be addressed. The EU will continue to push for additional access to the U.S. market under the TTIP agreement. However, any improved terms of access made available to the U.S. market should be met with reciprocal access for U.S. apple and pear growers.
The TTIP efforts must address the existing market access issues and make establishing a level playing field for our agricultural exports a top priority. We urge you to work with your European counterparts and regulatory authorities to make resolving these technical barriers to trade a priority in the TTIP negotiations. Any SPS regulatory barriers to trade must be based on scientifically-sound information and must not disregard the science-based regulatory decisions made by the United States.
Thank you for your attention to this issue of concern. We look forward to working with you on ensuring that U.S. apple and pear exports are given fair treatment.
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