The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has started a process for action against the European Union’s restrictions on U.S. beef imports. Following a public hearing and after reviewing comments, USTR could decide to reinstate World Trade Organization-authorized retaliatory tariffs on EU products imported into the U.S. if the EU does not remove its restrictions on U.S. beef.

In 1998 the EU lost a WTO case brought by the U.S. against EU barriers to U.S. beef treated with certain hormones. The decision authorized the U.S. to impose retaliatory tariffs worth $116 million annually but the EU did not remove the restrictions.

In 2009 the U.S. and the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a duty-free quota for imports of non-hormone specialty beef into the EU to compensate the U.S. for losses from the import ban. In recent years the specialty beef quota has also been used by other suppliers, reducing the positive impact for U.S. producers.

Negotiations to resolve the original dispute with the EU have not been successful. The imposition of retaliatory duties by the U.S. was suspended in 2009.