Washington, D.C. – As the Obama Administration prepares for trade talks set to begin next week with European authorities, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are pushing the administration to prioritize reducing trade barriers that New York’s apple and pear growers face in European markets.
U.S. and European trade officials completed the first round of talks in July on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to boost trading between U.S. and European markets. The next round of talks is set to begin on November 11 in Brussels, Belgium, and the third round is scheduled for December 16-20 in Washington, D.C.
“As the second largest apple producer and fourth largest pear producer in the US, New York’s growers stand at the ready to send bushels of fruit to the European market,” said Senator Schumer. “With two more rounds of negotiations this year, there is plenty of time to reach an agreement that puts our economy first and lands New York pears, apples and other fruit on plates from Paris to Prague.”
“New York farms grow the world’s finest apples, pears and other fruits that run into too many obstacles to reach new markets,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the President’s Export Council. “For our state’s economy to grow, we need our farms to thrive, and we need strong trade deals that can give New York’s growers the best possible chance to succeed.”
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand joined a letter last week to Ambassador Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative, calling for talks on the TTIP to work to improve the terms of access for U.S. apple and pear exports to Europe. In the letter, the senators note that different standards on regulations in Europe have unfairly disadvantaged U.S. agriculture produce like apples and pears.
The senators noted trade data shows that apple exports to the European Union dropped 73 percent from the crop in 2006 to 2012. They also noted that pear exports to the same region have dropped 73 percent from 2009 to 2012, in total the drop adds up to $33 million per-year in lost export revenues.
New York is the second highest producer of apples, behind Washington State. In 2010, New York produced 1.26 billion pounds of apples, generating nearly $230 million in revenue. Schumer and Gillibrand are also both pushing related legislation, the Apple Export Act, that would exempt bulk shipments of apples to Canada from inspection. That legislation would help save New York apple producers upwards of $550,000 each year by eliminating costly inspection procedures. In addition, New York is the fourth highest producer of pears, behind Washington, Oregon and California, and stands poised to grow into the overseas market.
Full text of the senators’ letter follows.
Dear Ambassador Froman:
We write today regarding the importance of specific agricultural interests in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As the negotiations proceed, it is imperative that our agricultural interests are given a top priority in the negotiations, particularly as they relate to the treatment of apple and pear exports.
Trade data over the past few years indicate that exports of United States’ apples and pears to the European Union are in steep decline. The volume of apple exports dropped 73% from the 2006 crop to the 2012 crop, while pear export volume declined 73% from the 2009 crop to the 2012 crop. Together, the decline in apple and pear export volume equates to a $33 million per-year loss in export revenue.
The erosion of the European market for U.S. apple and pear exports is largely the result of different regulatory standards and requirements for pesticides and food additives. Under the European Union’s (EU) precautionary principle, rules and procedures often diverge from the science-based, cost-benefit analysis approach of the United States, limiting our nation’s agricultural exports to Europe.
As we engage with the EU in these talks, it is important that the sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports be addressed. The EU will continue to push for additional access to the U.S. market under the TTIP agreement. However, any improved terms of access made available to the U.S. market should be met with reciprocal access for U.S. apple and pear growers.
The TTIP efforts must address the existing market access issues and make establishing a level playing field for our agricultural exports a top priority. We urge you to work with your European counterparts and regulatory authorities to make resolving these technical barriers to trade a priority in the TTIP negotiations. Any SPS regulatory barriers to trade must be based on scientifically-sound information and must not disregard the science-based regulatory decisions made by the United States.
Thank you for your attention to this issue of concern. We look forward to working with you on ensuring that U.S. apple and pear exports are given fair treatment.