` U.S. Producers' Group, Waving '60 Minutes' Report, Calls Trade Agreement a 'Missed Opportunity' - Olive Oil Times

U.S. Producers' Group, Waving '60 Minutes' Report, Calls Trade Agreement a 'Missed Opportunity'

Jan. 25, 2016
Wendy Logan

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Sectors of the U.S. agri­cul­tural indus­try are express­ing a mea­sure of dis­ap­point­ment in the terms of the recently passed Tans-Pacific Trade agree­ment (TPP).

Kimberly Houlding, pres­i­dent of the American Olive Oil Producers Association (AOOPA) tes­ti­fied at a hear­ing last week that the TPP should have been the begin­ning of a forum of New World olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries,” and that it should have been the jump­ing-off point for address­ing the issues faced by the indus­try in the U.S., Australia, Chile, Mexico, and New Zealand.

We are con­cerned and dis­ap­pointed that this agree­ment may be miss­ing a major oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote trans­parency and effec­tive qual­ity stan­dards within the TPP coun­tries.- Kimberly Houlding, American Olive Oil Producers Association

Despite U.S. indus­try efforts,” she said, the agree­men­t’s tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers to trade’ chap­ter does not include olive oil in the annex direct­ing coun­tries to form sec­tor-spe­cific groups to address stan­dards, label­ing and pack­ag­ing for wine and spir­its, cos­met­ics and other prod­ucts.”

Houlding cited in tes­ti­mony before the United States International Trade Commission the recent 60 Minutes’ seg­ment which high­lighted the health haz­ards of adul­ter­ated olive oil before an esti­mated 12 mil­lion American view­ers of the pro­gram. That is a fright­en­ing thought given one expert in this story who esti­mated that 75 to 80 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil exported from Italy to U.S. super­mar­ket shelves is fraud­u­lent,” said Houlding, refer­ring to Extra Virginity’ author, Tom Mueller, who was inter­viewed for the seg­ment.

Victoria Guida reported in Politico on January 15 that Houlding asserted the TPP offered the oppor­tu­nity to form a U.S.-based group that would pro­vide coun­ter­bal­ance to the International Olive Council that rep­re­sents Europe’s olive oil trade.

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It is still pos­si­ble that a pro­vi­sion might be added to pro­vide for the estab­lish­ment of ad hoc work­ing groups whose pur­pose would be to address stan­dards and reg­u­la­tory issues, which con­tinue to be an over­all con­cern for the olive oil indus­try as a whole. According to USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah, TPP’s [Technical Barriers to Trade] chap­ter pro­vides the oppor­tu­nity to work on addi­tional sec­tor spe­cific ini­tia­tives, and we look for­ward to fur­ther dis­cus­sions with the indus­try on this topic.”

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