US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he was signing a deal with the European Union to increase sales of “great American beef” to the bloc.
“The European Union stepped up and we appreciate it,” Trump said at a press conference, flanked by a contingent of EU and US officials as well as farmers and ranchers wearing cowboy hats.
Under the deal, Trump said beef sales to the EU will increase by 46% in the first year, and go up by 90% over the next seven years.
At the end of the press conference, Trump made a joke about the EU agreeing to pay a 25% tariff on Mercedes Benz and BMW cars exported to the US.
“I’m only kidding,” Trump said, before pointing to the EU officials present and adding: “They started to get a little bit worried.”
German farmers not happy
The head of the German Farmers’ Association, Joachim Rukwied, slammed the new beef deal, saying European farmers were losing out.
“Whether it’s (the free trade agreement with) Mercosur or this deal with the US — the EU is increasingly granting concessions that disadvantage European farmers,” Rukwied told the German Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency on Saturday.
He added that “opening the market for transatlantic imports of agricultural goods can also not be justified when considering the climate discussion.”
EU puts emphasis on ‘hormone free’
In June, the European Commission announced that it reached an agreement with the US to allow the import of more hormone-free US beef. Earlier trade discussions with European and US officials had hit a snag over agriculture imports.
During Friday’s press conference, the EU’s ambassador to the US, Stavros Lambrinidis, repeatedly emphasized that the deal pertained to “hormone-free” beef.
“For us it is a highlight that trade is not just about money, it is also about values. It is about making sure that high standards are used and upheld to deal with unfair competition,” Lambrinidis said.
The deal still needs the approval of the European Parliament before it can go into effect.
The US and the EU have been issuing tit-for-tat threats regarding trade in recent years, but this has ramped up significantly under Trump’s “America First” administration.
The EU and the US are each other’s largest trading partners.
rs/amp (AP, dpa, Reuters)