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EU Energy, Biotech Policies Cast Doubt on Trade Agreement

American Soybean Association says EU's policies on GMOs, renewable energy are going to be a sticking point

Published on: May 31, 2013

As negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership move forward, ag interests are weighing in on what provisions they'd like to see in the agreement.

American Soybean Association executive committee member Richard Wilkins Thursday voiced the association's opinion in front of the Trade Policy Staff Committee of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, explaining the importance of the European Union marketplace for soy and other agricultural products

Wilkins said some EU policies will need to be addressed before moving forward in negotations, including labeling of biotech products and policies regarding biofuel feedstocks used for renewable energy that he described as "discriminatory."

American Soybean Association says EUs policies on GMOs, renewable energy are going to be a sticking point
American Soybean Association says EU's policies on GMOs, renewable energy are going to be a sticking point

Specifically, he said the Renewable Energy Directive, which imposes greenhouse gas emission benchmark reduction requirements on American soy imports, uses foreign data that skews qualifications.

"The greenhouse gas formula for soy-biodiesel is based on production and transportation data for Brazil," he explained. "This significantly understates the emissions reduction of U.S. biodiesel and thus limits the amount of biodiesel derived from U.S. soybeans that can qualify under RED."

More broadly, Wilkins also testified that the EU's policies on conservation, regulation of pesticides and subsidizing of soybean production in certain areas are obstacles to meat exports, which represent the largest consumer of soy.

The livestock industry similarly sent a letter to the USTR last week, explaining opposition to the EU's "precautionary principle," which allows precautionary trade measures to be implemented based on the identification of potential risk, public perception and political considerations, the livestock groups said.

The groups noted also that all agreements with the EU in relation to the TTIP must be laid out before any sort of agreement goes into effect, and not left to an "after the fact" rulemaking mechanism.

EU trade ministers are expected to move forward on an accord formalizing the start of negotiations on the TTIP by the end of June, ASA said.