Food and agricultural imports from the EU may need to meet European standards

Food and agricultural products imported into the European Union may soon have to meet EU health and environmental standards.

Food and agricultural products imported into the EU come mainly from Argentina, Brazil, China, Switzerland, Turkey, Indonesia, Ukraine, Ivory Coast and the United States.

These countries would have to comply with EU standards or disrupt their trade. Cheyenne McEndaffer, spokeswoman for the US Meat Export Federation, has spoken out against the EU idea.

“In the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), applying an EU standard or regulation to an importing country just for the sake of application without very clearly defined human or animal health risks is non-compliant,” McEndaffer said.

“We (the US) have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but that’s really dictated by voluntary and commercial practices at the farm level, and third-party and regulatory standards at the slaughterhouse level,” he added.

Farmers and ranchers in the United States and many European producers and exporters oppose the EU’s plans. European exporters could face retaliatory tariffs if the WTO finds that enforced EU standards are incompatible with trade deals.

As for the EU, the 27 European member states have maintained a trade balance in the agri-food sector since 2010.
Ukraine is traditionally one of the largest food and agricultural regions in Europe. Trade is currently in turmoil over the war in Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia over the invasion.

An example of the tension between US and EU standards is washing chickens in chlorine and other disinfectants to remove harmful bacteria.

Flushing is a common practice in the US and was banned by the EU in 1997 over food safety concerns. The European Food Safety Authority is not concerned about chlorine, but about the production process as a possible compensation for poor hygiene standards – such as dirty or overcrowded slaughterhouses.

The European Union (EU) consists of 27 member states with approximately 445 million people.

EU members share a customs union, a single market where goods can move freely, a common trade policy, and common agricultural and fisheries policies.

The EU Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, 2020.

Montenegro, North Macedonia, Turkey, Albania and Serbia are EU accession candidates.

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