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US and EU settle their beef beef with new trade deal

After steak-ing out their positions, both sides agreed to meat in the middle.

More American beef tenderloin is coming to Europe.
More American beef tenderloin is coming to Europe.
Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The US and the European Union have had a beef beef for years. But after steak-ing out their relative positions, they finally just agreed to meat in the middle.

President Donald Trump just announced a new deal under which the EU will accept a high number of American beef exports, a move that will surely increase profits for US farmers and related industries. The EU will accept 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef from foreign countries every year, and America will be allowed to fulfill 35,000 tons of that quota after seven years — roughly 80 percent of the total.

The agreement was originally reached in June and approved by EU members in July. On Friday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his European counterpart made the deal official.

It’s unclear why exactly the White House decided to make such a big deal about this. It’s no doubt a great thing for American cattle ranchers, farmers, and for lovers of huge steaks in Europe. But usually agreements like these are made and then the public is notified with a press release — not a massive to-do.


But Bloomberg reported before the ceremony that Lighthizer wanted to show the US and EU were making progress on their many trade disputes, a necessary thing since both are each other’s largest trading partners. Among other issues, the US has placed tariffs on European steel and continue to fight over penalties on their respective aerospace companies, Boeing (US) and Airbus (Europe).

What’s more, Trump has long considered placing tariffs on German cars, which could cost the staunch US ally’s automotive sector about $7 billion a year. And just last week, he openly mused about increasing costs on French wine entering the US market, saying “I’ve always liked American wine better.” The president, who owns a winery, often says he doesn’t drink alcohol.

In other words, the Trump-led ceremony ultimately may have been a show to ensure Europe doesn’t have a cow over current trade tensions.

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