23 March 1999
USA targets Europe over hormone beef

THE United States opened up another flank in its trade war with Europe yesterday by threatening to impose $900 million (£550m) of sanctions on European agricultural exports.

The threat was made in retaliation for a 10-year-old ban on hormone-treated beef imports from the USA.

The latest US move follows last months decision to implement sanctions against the European Union (EU) in the conflict over bananas.

The products threatened with duties and likely to hurt British exporters include beef, pork and poultry products, as well as onions, carrots, cut flowers and chocolate.

The products will be subject to crippling tariffs by 12 June if Europe fails to lift its ban on the US beef.

Ambassador Peter Scher, the US special trade negotiator, said that America was prepared to discuss a labelling regime for US beef.

But Mr Scher said that the EU had not been willing to give a commitment that it would both implement a labelling regime and lift the ban.

The European Commission dismissed the US move as procedural, and said talks about labelling and compensation were continuing.

The World Trade Organisation ruled in August 1997 that the beef ban was illegal and granted Brussels 15 months to conduct scientific assessments of the health risks.