The imminent threat of heavy US tariffs on many EU processed food exports has been lifted, after Washington and Brussels struck a preliminary deal over a long-running dispute on beef hormones.
Retaliatory duties such as a 300% duty on French cheese Roquefort were to be levied from this week, but have now been suspended.
Other EU products earmarked for new tariffs (of 100%) had included filled chocolate, chewing gum, raspberry jams, and more processed meats, plus fruit juices from Austria, Cyprus, France and Poland.
However, in what was labelled a “pragmatic way forward”, EU trade commissioner Catherine Ashton and US trade representative Ron Kirk have agreed to suspend the additional duties in return for the EU allowing new duty-free access annually for 20,000 tonnes of non-hormone treated American beef over three years. The limit will be increased to 45,000 tonnes in a fourth year.
Existing lower level World Trade Organisation sanctioned US duties (mainly on meat products) will continue until a final solution to the row is negotiated.