American Soybean Association Executive Committee member Richard Wilkins spoke on the importance of including the unique nature of American agriculture and of soybean farming in upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations at a forum held in Washington Wednesday. During the European Union-United States High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum – Wilkins noted the importance of the EU as an export market for U.S. soybeans and soy products. But he said recent exports have declined due to EU policies. Wilkins said the U.S. exported 10.3-million tons of soy products to EU Member States in 1997. By 2012 – the volume of exports had fallen by over 81-percent to 1.9-million tons. According to Wilkins – the American Soybean Association believes one cause for the sharp decline is the EU’s requirements that food products derived from agricultural biotechnology enhancement be labeled. Wilkins also cited the EU’s discriminatory policies on biofuel feedstocks under its Renewable Energy Directive.
Wilkins highlighted three major areas in which EU biotech regulations and policies must be discussed during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks – including correcting the EU approval process for new biotech enhancement traits such that approvals are subject to deadlines and based only on scientific criteria; the establishment of commercially-feasible international standards for the Low Level Presence of unapproved biotech traits in commodity shipments; and addressing the unlawful practice of prohibiting imports of biotech-enhanced commodities that have been approved by EU Commissioners. He also raised concerns with the Renewable Energy Directive. Wilkins said the U.S. soy industry has worked with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA to initiate negotiations with the EU on a bilateral agreement under which documented producer compliance with U.S. conservation laws would be deemed as achieving the RED’s sustainability requirements. If the U.S. is to maintain even its current limited access to the EU market for soybean exports – he said the TTIP must guarantee that negotiations on an aggregate bilateral agreement will go forward, as provided for under the RED.
Wilkins also cited the soybean industry’s opposition to the EU’s proposed Ecologically-Focused Areas program. ASA believes the program would nullify and impair U.S. access to the EU market for soybeans and soybean meal – and also violate the Blair House Agreement reached at the end of the Uruguay Round negotiations.
Source: NAFB News Service