Food and Ag Policy Briefing: Brexit extended, US talks more tariffs on EU goods, Vietnam bans glyphosate imports
UK food industry has spoken of relief over the Brexit extension whilst the US has drawn up a list of EU products on which it could impose additional tariffs as a response to a WTO ruling against the EU.
The UK food industry said it was “mightily relieved” last week by the news that the European Council had offered to extend the Brexit process until October 31.
This article provides a review of the most significant talking points in the food and agriculture policy sphere for the past seven days.
On Wednesday night (April 10), EU leaders gathered in Brussels to agree the extension, just two days before the UK was facing a cliff edge exit on April 12.
The UK has the option of leaving at any time before October 31 if it can get parliamentary agreement on the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement before then. But it will need to hold elections to the European Parliament on May 23, if the House of Commons has not agreed to approve the Brexit deal by the previous day.
Industry associations as well as European Council president Donald Tusk urged the UK not to waste the extra time given to them. The UK was also urged to “behave itself” in the interim period while it is still an EU member state with all the rights and responsibilities afforded to that position.
Both sides had, until Wednesday night, been building up to an imminent hard Brexit, where the UK would leave the union without a deal and become a "third country" to the EU.
In anticipation of a hard exit, the UK revealed during the week that it had won “listed status” from the EU for its animal health and biosecurity arrangements, meaning that in the event of a no deal, the country could continue to export animals and animal products into the bloc without disruption.
On the EU side, farm commissioner Phil Hogan revealed on Monday (April 8) that contingency plans were in place to compensate farmers for disruption caused by a cliff edge departure.
US-EU trade tensions rise
A ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that found the EU had provided illegal subsidies to Airbus led the US to threaten to place several billion dollars worth of additional tariffs on EU goods.
The US Trade Representative released a prelimary list of food products it intends to target, which will be open to consultation over the next few months.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that the ultimate goal was to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. “When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted,” he said last week.
Glyphosate imports banned in Vietnam
Vietnam announced last week that it had banned imports of the herbicide glyphosate, drawing criticism from the US. Vietnam’s Plant Protection Department is urging businesses in the country to not import glyphosate-based herbicides, the local press reported.
USDA chief Sonny Perdue said he was disappointed with Vietnam’s decision, which he described as “a move that will have devastating impacts on global agricultural production."
Also last week, Bayer released a second tranche of data on glyphosate as part of its transparency drive in Europe.
The move means that all Bayer-owned glyphosate safety study reports that were submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as part of the EU authorisation process of the substance are now publicly available, the company said.
Mexico border talk
Sonny Perdue was also in the news last week expressing his concern about White House talk of closing the Mexico-US border.
Perdue told a Senate committee that it would be detrimental to agriculture and that he saw no threat that would justify the closure.
IEG Policy’s Roger Bernard can be seen here being interviewed by TRT World on the implications of a border closure.
In case you missed it…
Other notable articles published on IEG Policy last week: