U.S., EU Sign Veterinary Equivalency Agreement To Facilitate Trade

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced that the United States has signed a new agreement with the European Union, paving the way for mutual recognition of animal health systems and easier resolution of related future disputes.

"This important agreement lays the foundation for increased trade opportunities between the U.S. and the European Union," said Glickman. "It is heartening that, despite the current difficulties in our trade relationship, the U.S. and the EU have worked together to reach agreement on these complex agricultural trade issues."

The agreement identifies specific areas where the two trading partners recognize that varied requirements of different nations can achieve an equivalent level of protection for public and animal health. In practical terms, this means that producers in one country wishing to export to another can meet the standards of the importing country in alternative ways, in addition to meeting their own domestic requirements. Thus, the agreement will help reduce compliance costs for producers, easing one of the factors that may unnecessarily depress exports.

The equivalency agreement allows veterinary inspection requirements to differ from country to country, and it ensures the United States the right to establish its own level of public health protection for imported and domestic products.

The agreement also establishes a process for regular consultations and exchange of information with the goal of eventually achieving full equivalence of inspection systems for all live animals and animal products between the United States and the EU.

The agreement, reached after six years of negotiation, covers approximately $1.5 billion in U.S. animal and animal product exports to the EU, and an equal value of EU exports to the United States. In 1998, the United States exported to the EU $377 million worth of edible fish and shellfish products, live animals valued at $175 million, pet food valued at $175 million, hides and skins worth $161 million, red meats valued at $111 million, as well as dairy and egg products valued at $54 million.

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