The American Soybean Association submitted formal comments to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk expressing concerns over the state of both soybean export quantity and value to the EU, saying that the EU’s policies on biotech soybeans, as well as “inaccurate characterization of biodiesel by the Renewable Energy Directive,” have contributed to a 70 percent drop in total soybean export quantity and a 44 percent decrease in soybean export value to the EU over the last 14 years.
“America’s soybean producers have lost a significant portion of what was a viable and thriving export market,” said association President Steve Wellman. “Now, with a Renewable Energy Directive that omits biodiesel based on inaccurate information and arbitrary standards, the remainder of that export market is threatened.” In its comments, the American Soybean Association points out that multiple EU policies hinder the importation and use of biotech crops from the U.S., including delays in approvals of new biotech traits, despite positive assessments by the European Food Safety Authority; commercially infeasible requirements on biotech content in food products under EU Traceability and Labeling Regulations; state-by-state restrictions on biotech imports; and application of National Seed Catalog and Coexistence requirements to planting of biotech crops by certain EU member states.
With regard to biodiesel, the association contends that the Renewable Energy Directive will impose inaccurate greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements for biodiesel produced from American soybean oil and other feedstocks; and will require compliance with arbitrary, unwarranted and commercially infeasible sustainability certification requirements. “Soybeans and soy-based products are the country’s leading agricultural export, topping $26 billion in total value last year,” said Wellman. “We are certainly encouraged by efforts to expand trading relationships and grow new trading partners, but not at the expense of our industry’s global competitiveness. Any discussions on a potential trade agreement with the EU must first address and resolve these barriers.”