The United States and the European Union (EU) will begin talks the week of July 8 on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) to formulate plans for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The initial talks between President Barack Obama and EU President Jose Manual Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy are set to start in Washington, DC.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is on record as supporting the negotiation of an FTA with the EU, which represents a tremendous market opportunity for U.S. pork producers. Pork consumption in the EU totals 20 million metric tons (22 million lb.) – constituting the second-largest market in the world for pork consumption.

However, as NPPC notes, there are numerous trade barriers blocking the United States from exporting significant amounts of pork to the EU. Last year, in fact, the United States exported more pork to Honduras than to the 27-member European Union.

Trade barriers to the EU include multiple quotas with high in-quota duties, a ban on the use of ractopamine in livestock feeds, mandatory trichinae mitigation, a ban on pathogen-reduction treatments at processing and a costly plant approval system.

NPPC’s pork producer leadership has worked to rally other agriculture groups to ensure that agriculture would have a seat at the table to be part of TTIP negotiations.

NPPC has also led the agriculture coalition to call for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that are based on scientific risk assessments and enforceable SPS provis