Audio: Changes to EU Duty-Free Quota Would Expand Opportunities for U.S. Beef

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The European Commission recently announced in a news release that it intends to discuss with the United States a review of the functioning of the European Union’s duty-free high-quality beef quota. The Commission suggests that part of the existing 45,000 metric ton (mt) quota that is also available to exporters from other countries be allocated to the United States in a manner that is consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Economist Erin Borror explains that because of aggressive growth from other suppliers (mainly Argentina and Uruguay), the duty-free quota lacks sufficient capacity for meeting Europe’s current level of demand for U.S. beef. The quota’s 11,250 mt quarterly allocations are fully utilized within the first two weeks of opening, meaning U.S. beef can only enter the EU at zero duty during the first few days of each quarter, creating tremendous challenges for U.S. exporters and European importers.

Borror notes that while the Commission’s announcement is a very encouraging development, it is only the first of several necessary steps remaining to reach agreement on how the quota will be administered in the future. But if proper changes to the quota can be negotiated, she projects excellent growth opportunities for U.S. beef exports to Europe.

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The U.S. Meat Export Federation ( is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry. It is funded by USDA; the beef, pork, lamb, corn and soybean checkoff programs, as well as its members representing nine industry sectors: beef/veal producing & feeding, pork producing & feeding, lamb producing & feeding, packing & processing, purveying & trading, oilseeds producing, feedgrains producing, farm organizations and supply & service organizations.