Tuesday, March 23, 1999

U.S.-European trade war widens to treated beef

The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — The United States, already in a trade war with Europe over bananas, Monday targeted $900 million in European products in a fight over Europe's ban on U.S. beef with growth hormones.

        Unless the dispute is settled, Danish hams, French truffles and Belgian chocolates may disappear from U.S. store shelves by summer.

        In all, 81 European products were put on a preliminary target list from which the Clinton administration said it will select a final list of goods that will be subject to punitive tariffs of 100 percent starting as early as June.

        The higher tariffs would effectively double the prices and are designed to eliminate the goods from the U.S. market in retaliation for lost sales the U.S. cattle industry says it is suffering because of Europe's ban on imports of beef with growth hormones.

        The U.S. industry has put the lost export sales at $500 million annually. More than 90 percent of U.S. cattle producers feed hormones approved by the Food and Drug Administration to cattle to make them grow faster and bigger.

        “The (European Union's) 10-year, arbitrary and scientifically unjustified ban on U.S. beef has had a substantial negative impact on U.S. beef producers,” U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said.

        Peter Scher, the U.S. trade negotiator on agricultural matters, told reporters that all 15 nations in the European Union had products on the list in the U.S. effort to bring maximum pressure on the European Union to drop its beef ban.

        The list, while covering predominantly agricultural products, contains a limited number of manufactured goods, including Italian moped motorcycles and hair clippers. The agricultural goods include canned hams from Denmark, other types of pork, beef, poultry, a variety of tomato products, Roquefort cheese, truffles, onions, chestnuts, paprika, goose liver, chewing gum, chocolate and mineral water.

        The new hit list is in addition to $520 million in European products ranging from Scottish cashmere sweaters and French handbags to Italian cheese and German coffee makers targeted in a separate battle involving European import restrictions that limit shipments by United States-based banana companies.


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- U.S.-European trade war widens to treated beef