Beef trade issues also exist with Canada, where the U.S. is considering imports of cattle older than 30 months.
But late this week, USDA decided to halt those deliberations until an investigation into Canada's recent cases of mad cow disease is complete. Canada has found seven animals infected with the disease, four this year.
Trade decisions are complex and time-consuming ... and just don't always work out. For example, world trade talks have gone on for nearly five years ... and earlier this week, those talks fell apart again.
Agriculture subsidies remained the key sticking point in global trade talks. In a war of words, the European Union this week blamed the United States for the breakdown in the Doha round. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said, "The United States was unwilling to accept, or indeed to acknowledge, the flexibility being shown by others in the room and, as a result, felt unable to show any flexibility on the issue of farm subsidies." The EU claims the current U.S. offer does not sufficiently cut farm subsidies.
But, Trade Representative Susan Schwab said the U.S. already offered to reduce domestic support by 60 percent. She argued it is the EU and other countries that are unwilling to budge: the EU for refusing to make deeper cuts in its farm import tariffs, and Brazil and India for being inflexible on cutting barriers to industrial imports.
This week, Schwab said, "During the recent G-6 meeting the U.S. made clear that it was ready and willing to demonstrate greater flexibility in the area of domestic supports if the EU and advanced developing economies demonstrated greater flexibility in market access...Unfortunately, they did not."
Stating the trade talks are in dire straits, WTO director Pascal Lamy said he doesn't intend to propose a date to resume negotiations.