Cattle feedlot

The U.S. secured more access to the European Union’s beef market after the bloc persuaded Australia, Argentina and Uruguay to cede chunks of an import quota.

American farmers will be entitled to almost 80% — or 35,000 metric tons — of the annual EU quota on hormone-free beef over seven years, with an initial allocation of around 40%, European officials told reporters in Brussels on June 14. The overall import limit amounts to 45,000 tons — most of which is currently supplied by Australia, Argentina and Uruguay.

The deal marks a bit of good news for the U.S. agriculture industry, which has suffered from President Donald Trump’s trade fights. Targets including the EU and China have retaliated against tariffs by his administration with duties that hit American farm products.

The EU is preparing for negotiations with the U.S. on cutting industrial levies. While the U.S. wants agriculture to be part of any deal, Europe has ruled out including farm goods in the planned talks.

Because the EU is negotiating free-trade agreements that would cover agriculture with Australia and a group of Latin American countries including Argentina and Uruguay, the bloc may have had some leverage to prod the three countries to make way for a bigger U.S. share of the European beef quota. In any case, Australia, Argentina and Uruguay risked losing the import allotment in the event of a U.S. complaint to the World Trade Organization.

The quota was set a decade ago to settle a transatlantic dispute over an EU ban on meat from cattle that were given growth hormones. WTO rules required the volumes be made available to other nations that export beef, and Australia, Argentina and Uruguay gradually replaced the U.S. as the largest suppliers.

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