The U.S. poultry industry has been one of the strongest voices in U.S. agriculture for trade liberalization and international market opening. "In the case of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, however, the U.S. poultry industry is, very frankly, much less enthusiastic," said National Chicken Council Senior Vice President Bill Roenigk May 30 at the United States International Trade Commission.
Roenigk delivered testimony at a public hearing on behalf of the National Chicken Council, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, and the National Turkey Federation in response to the request for comments concerning Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that appeared in the Federal Register on April 1.
Roenigk expressed the views of the industry saying that a new trade agreement with the EU must provide real and meaningful market access to the European market for U.S. poultry, and that "without a successful outcome for poultry in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement, the U.S. poultry industry will seriously question the need to support such a bilateral trade agreement."
In theory, Roenigk explained, the EU is a very attractive potential market for U.S. poultry. The EU-27 has nearly 400 million consumers and a high standard of living. In recent years, EU-27 annual poultry imports ranged from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion, with more than 60 percent being imported from Brazil. Industry analysts estimate the market for U.S. poultry exports to the EU are around $600 million on an annual basis. In the longer run, however, the EU-27 market potential is even greater, as per capita poultry consumption in EU-27 is almost 40 pounds. This compares to 97 pounds in Brazil, 95 pounds in the United States and 86 pounds in Argentina.
"Theory, however, does not provide sufficient grounds for real market access," Roenigk continued. "As seen in the past, the European Union acts aggressively by overly-protecting the domestic poultry producing industry. Non-tariff barriers, especially technical barriers to trade, prevent import competition from U.S. poultry."
"We hope that we will, at some point, be able to strongly support this initiative," Roenigk concluded. "However, until there is a clear indication of how this agreement will result in real and meaningful market access with the elimination of all non-tariff trade barriers to our products, we do not see how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is in the interests of our industry, our member companies, our workers or the tens of thousands family farmers who grow chickens in the United States."