Sonny Perdue, on a five-day trip to Europe, said both Washington
and Brussels were eager to reset the transatlantic relationship
but that rules should be based on real risks not potential
The U.S. trade deficit in agriculture was not logical given the
EU had almost double the number of consumers as the United
States and only two-thirds of the arable land, Perdue said.
Agriculture has proved a block in U.S.-EU trade talks, with
Brussels resisting Washington's demand that it be included.
Perdue said tariffs on farm produce could be tackled at a later
stage, but regulatory barriers need to be addressed now.
The EU, for example, bans hormone-treated beef or poultry washed
with peracetic acid to remove pathogens.
"You know what it is? It's vinegar essentially.... We don't use
chlorine any more to treat chicken," Perdue told reporters,
pointing to EU acceptance of washing salad with chlorine.
Perdue said he was aware of EU difficulties given what he said
was fear-mongering by some campaign groups, but EU leaders
needed to get the message across.
"The European public needs to understand that their producers
are going to be at a huge disadvantage... if they choose to be a
technology-free zone," he said.
The executive European Commission has mooted removing barriers
to boost trade in EU apples and pears and U.S. shellfish, but
Perdue said this would only scratch the surface.
"We're not going to get there with apples and pears and
shellfish. There are other things have to happen," he said.
The United States and the EU are already locked in a tit-for-tat
tariff dispute that could escalate if Trump follows through with
a threat to hit EU cars.
The U.S. and EU spirits sectors, facing tariffs on both sides of
the Atlantic, called on Monday for urgent action to return to
the tariff-free trade they have enjoyed since 1997.
U.S. whisky exports to Europe have fallen by 29% since EU
imposed tariffs in mid-2018.
"Eventually these broader issues will have to be resolved one
way or another. Both trading partners are going to have to find
a path to come together because our economies are so linked,"
Chris Swonger, president of the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council,
(Editing by Timothy Heritage)
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