In 2013, the U.S. and the EU initiated free trade negotiations under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). These negotiations offer a substantial opportunity to resolve many of the longstanding agricultural trade barriers between the two markets. The negotiations are likely to extend for several years.
The United States is the European Union's biggest market for agricultural exports, and meat exports have been rising over the past three years.
Europe comes fifth on the list of America's most important agricultural trading partners - an EU ban on hormone-treated meat and meat products has caused difficulty for the US meat industry who have turn their eyes towards China.
In 2010, EU meat exports to the United States were worth $1.65 billion, a number which grew to $2.15 billion in 2012. By comparison, American meat shipments to Europe fell from $1.15 billion in 2011 to $988 million in 2012, as reveals the information compiled by Naill Mc Carthy from STATISTA, the internet Statistics Portal, based on data from Heinrich Boll Stiftung and Friends of the Earth Europe.
The transatlantic meat trade have showed good figures for both side of the Atlantic. It could be given a further boost once the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement, currently under discussion, has been successfully negotiated.
This could prove the largest bilateral free trade agreement in history. Meat exports across the Atlantic have already demonstrated their immense financial value in both directions.
In 2013, just prior to the initiation of the T-TIP negotiations, the EU finally approved lactic acid as an anti-microbial treatment (AMT) for some beef products. However, lactic acid still may not be used in pork products, nor has the EU made any strides towards approving other common AMTs.
Full access to the European market remains a singular objective for US exporters. Currently, only a handful of US beef and pork plants are approved to export to the EU. Some recent changes to the EU's meat hygiene law will ease plant approvals. However, the issue of approved anti-microbial methods still needs to be reconsidered if more U.S. plants are to be eligible to export to the EU.