If U.S. agriculture or selected parts of U.S. agriculture are excluded from the soon-to-be officially-launched Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) final agreement or are placed into a “future negotiation” category, it will likely fail to win the overall support of the food and agricultural sector that will be needed to ensure final congressional approval of the agreement, the National Chicken Council and forty other agricultural organizations said in a jointly-signed letter to White House Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) nominee Michael Froman.

The letter delivered this week to Froman was a further explanation and clarification to the letter delivered to then USTR Ron Kirk. At that time, the administration’s insistence was that the agreement must be “comprehensive and ambitious.” However, a resolution regarding the TTIP passed by the European Parliament on April 24 strongly expresses the intent of the European Union to maintain the precautionary principle, which would undermine sound science and ultimately the agreement itself.

U.S. poultry exports to the European Union have been prohibited since 1997, in large part, the result of the European Union applying its precautionary principle with respect to pathogen-reduction treatments used during poultry processing. The letter noted that even when proper risk assessments have been made, which in the case of U.S. poultry showed essentially no risk, the European Union has respectively found the necessary political ability to remove the unjustifiable trade measures. USTR estimates U.S. poultry exports to the European Union would be over $600 million annually if fair market access was provided.

In this week’s letter, the group noted that the best way to achieve an outcome on these matters that the food and agricultural sector can strongly support is to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating structure as the template for the TTIP. The TPP is intended to be a comprehensive agreement, covering all sectors without exceptions: all topics are to be concluded as a “single undertaking,” which means that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  In addition, there is to be an SPS chapter with strong and enforceable WTO-plus disciplines.

The negotiating approach the Obama administration has reportedly worked out with Japan in the TPP negotiations is directly relevant to negotiations with the European Union in the TTIP.  It is understood that the United States and Japan will pursue the talks with a three-pronged approach: parallel negotiations on tariff issues, non-tariff measures and the automobile sector, with negotiations not to be considered concluded until all significant non-tariff measures are satisfactorily addressed. This same type of approach should be undertaken with the European Union, the letter stated.

Out of the 40 groups signing the letter,  signers from poultry groups include the National Chicken Council,  California Poultry Federation, Georgia Poultry Federation, National Turkey Federation, North Carolina Poultry Federation, and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. The letter is available here.