WASHINGTON May 23 The United States and
European Union are making headway on a free trade pact, but the
two sides remain at odds over U.S. exports of beef and chicken
that fail to meet tough EU safety standards, negotiators said on
After a fifth round of talks between the world's two biggest
economic regions, negotiators for both sides said they made
steady progress on common standards and regulations in many
The talks are expected to intensify in coming months and
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said they had now moved
from discussing a conceptual framework to defining specific
ideas for addressing the majority of trade issues.
But there was no sign of resolving a standoff over farm
exports in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP), which would account for a third of global trade and
almost half the world economy.
The European Union is closed to U.S. beef from cattle raised
with growth hormones and to chlorine-washed chicken, which
consumers fear make the food unsafe.
Chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mullaney said the United States
was still pursuing increased market access for beef and there
were "deep conversations" about the basis for food safety rules.
"The United States has no intention of forcing Europeans to
eat anything a European does not want to eat. That's not what
this agreement is about," he told reporters. "But it is
significantly about providing protections on food safety for our
Difficulties over agriculture are a worrying sign because
negotiators are seeking a sophisticated agreement going beyond
farm goods to bring down barriers and harmonize regulation
The United States sees EU food safety rules as veiled
protectionism for European farmers and insists any restrictions
be based on scientific evidence. But the EU's lead negotiator,
Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, said the European team had made it clear
food safety laws will not become less restrictive.
"Hormone-treated beef is prohibited under European Union law
and certainly we do not envisage any changes," he said.
In a recent trade deal with the European Union, Canada won
the right to export more hormone-free beef to the EU, but U.S.
farmers say setting up separate processing chains for
hormone-free products would be too costly.
Talks are still ongoing over separate TTIP sections on
energy and financial services, which the EU is pushing for but
the United States resists, negotiators said. The goal is to
finalize the pact by the end of 2015.
(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Writing by Krista Hughes;
Editing by Tom Brown)