In June 2013, U.S. President Obama and the European Union launched negotiations on a trade agreement intended to spur economic growth. Last week, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a detailed report describing the U.S. objectives for the negotiations. Among the goals listed in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), was the elimination of tariffs on agricultural products between the US and the EU.
The report indicated that erasing tariffs would “provide a level playing field for our agricultural producers,” and it specifically cited the benefits to olive oil producers. “U.S. olive oil producers would also benefit from tariff elimination, since U.S. olive oil is subject to $1,680 in duties per ton on shipments to the EU, but their EU completion pay only $34 per ton on shipments to the United States,” the report said.
Kimberly Houlding, executive director of the American Olive Oil Producers Association, was pleased to see the reference to olive oil trade. She saw the citation as an indication that the administration was “taking notice” of the report issued by the United States International Trade Commission in September, 2013 that identified factors, such as tariffs and subsidies, that affect the competitiveness of American produced olive oil in the global market.
T-TIP negotiations began in 2013 and the fourth round of talks concluded on March 14, 2014. The next step occurs on March 26 when President Obama, European Council President Van Rompuy and European Commission President Barroso discussed T-TIP at a summit in Brussels.
There is no specific deadline for reaching agreement on the trade partnership. A spokesperson from the USTR indicated, “We are committed to working as fast as possible, so we can bring the economic benefits of T-TIP to our workers, consumers, and firms in real time. But the substance will dictate our pace, and we have not identified a specific end-date.”