Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
4 August 1999 Issue

European Union and the United States Sign Veterinary Agreement
Source: [email protected]

WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A veterinary agreement between the European Union and the United States was formally signed in Brussels today by Mr. Kalevi Hemila, President of the EU Council and European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Franz Fischler on behalf of the EU, and by US Ambassador to the EU Richard Louis Morningstar on behalf of the US. The agreement enters into force on August 1, 1999.

Commenting on the agreement, Commissioner Fischler said: "This agreement is the result of long and difficult negotiations. The veterinary agreement represents an important step in deepening the relations between the EU and the US in general, and in the veterinary field in particular. The agreement sends an important message, namely the recognition that our veterinary requirements on both sides of the Atlantic essentially are equivalent and seek as a common objective a high level of health and consumer protection." He expressed the hope that the agreement would lead to enhanced mutual trust, and help to resolve potentially contentious issues at an early stage.

The objective of the agreement is to facilitate trade in live animals and animal products between the EU and the US by establishing a mechanism for the recognition of equivalence of sanitary measures operating in the two regions. The recognition by an importing country of the sanitary measures applied by an exporting country can permit greater efficiency in the utilization of inspection and verification resources.

The agreement includes US acceptance of the EU's regionalization principle for the main animal diseases, which will have significant beneficial effects for trade. This means that an outbreak of an animal disease in a defined and restricted region need not result, as at present, in a ban on trade from the whole of the affected EU member state or from other member states not directly affected, but which trade with the affected member state. The agreement also lists those commodities for which equivalence is recognized. For those commodities where equivalence is not yet recognized, it sets out a program of work towards recognition, as well as trade conditions applicable in the interim. The provisions covering equivalency determination on health requirements, consultations, exchange of information, notification on disease developments, scientific exchange, verification and audit will enhance mutual understanding.

The total trade between the EU and the US in the products covered by this agreement is about $1.5 billion in each direction. Within these amounts are significant differences in the importance to each party of certain commodities. In terms of trade, the principal US exports covered by the agreement are fish and fishery products ($350 million), petfood ($150 million) and fresh meat ($150 million). Other significant US exports include rendered fats, hides and skins and live horses. For the EU, the principal exports covered are dairy products ($600 million), fish and fishery products ($170 million), fresh meat ($122 million) and meat products ($122 million).

In the case of fresh meat, while the US exports are divided between horsemeat, beef and poultry meat (before the cessation of poultry meat exports), the EU exports to the US are almost all pig meat ($120 million out of $122 million).

The Commission has conducted negotiations with a number of third countries. An agreement has been concluded with New Zealand, Canada and the Czech Republic. Negotiations are continuing with Australia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

Nothing in this agreement changes EU legislation. The agreement makes explicit reference to responsibilities that fall to the member states and those which are EU responsibilities. It also takes account of the rights and obligations of both parties under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and of the necessity to ensure a high level of protection of animal and public health in the EU.

[Editorial Note: Importation/exportation of animal meat is very much related to one of the sickest most vile industries ever to exist, the meat industry. The above should call your attention to the expanding of the industry and the U.S.'s part in it.]

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