A coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations is urging the Obama administration to press the European Union (EU) to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement, including addressing sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) barriers to trade.
A coalition of 47 organizations, including the American Sheep Industry Association, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Nominee Mike Froman this week. It expressed concern with a resolution approved last month by the European Parliament that in negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States the EU should maintain the "precautionary principle" for SPS issues. Precautionary measures are implemented based on the mere identification of potential risk or, worse, on public perception and political considerations rather than on science-based risk assessments. The World Trade Organization requires member countries' SPS measures to be based on scientific risk assessments.
"Precaution in the EU has become a pretext for import protectionism under the pretense of consumer safety," wrote the coalition in its letter. "Such non-science-based measures have become the most challenging barrier to U.S. food and agricultural exports to the EU."