As part of its consideration of a request by U.S. beef producers to reinstate retaliatory duties against a range of products imported to the U.S. from the E.U. due to the long-running beef hormone dispute, the United States Trade Representative requested comments from interested parties who might be affected by the duties.

The beef hormone dispute began when the E.U. embargoed imports of U.S. beef grown with the use of hormones.  This started a battle within the WTO which lasted more than a decade.  From 1999 to 2012, retaliatory 100% duties were imposed on a wide range of mostly beef-related products, but also including Roquefort cheese.  Although the dispute was settled in 2009 by a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and E.U., U.S. beef producers are unhappy that a special quota for “high quality beef” which was the centerpiece of the E.U.’s concessions is now being rapidly filled by imports from Uruguay and Australia.  Under a trade law passed in 2016, the beef producers requested that retaliatory tariffs be reimposed.

FisherBroyles partner Chris Pey testified on behalf of the Confédération Générale de Roquefort that reimposition of duties on Roquefort cheese from France would not assist the USTR in resolving the dispute, and would unfairly raise prices for Roquefort cheese to small and medium size importers, specialty cheese shops and U.S. consumers. 

The Confédération Générale de Roquefort, a private industry group representing the interest of the 7 Roquefort producers requested that the USTR consider imposing duties on other, beef-related tariff lines rather than unfairly singling out their specialty product, which by law is made only in a single village in the south of France by a community of less than 700 people.   

FisherBroyles international trade partner Chris Pey testified that, “[c]hoosing Roquefort for a second round of retaliation would not advance the interests of the USTR in resolving the dispute in favor of the US beef industry. Primarily this is due to the lack of political influence carried by the Roquefort producers, because of their small numbers and the fact that Roquefort is only produced in one small area in a single country of the 28-member EU.  We ask how can imposing duties on a single village in a single EU country, have an appreciable impact on negotiations with the central EU trade negotiators responsible for making a decision that touches on every EU member state?”

FisherBroyles’ partners specializing in international trade stand ready to assist other groups who might be affected by the possible reimposition of retaliatory duties in the beef hormone dispute.  For more information, contact Chris Pey at chris.pey@fisherboyles.com, or 646-233-2533.