2:13 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much everybody. We appreciate it. A wonderful day, and a wonderful deal for a lot of people. Today, we’re signing a breakthrough agreement that will make it easier to export American beef into the European Union. We’ve been under negotiation for quite a while. And our beef farmers, we didn’t think were being treated fair, but the European Union stepped up and we appreciate it. And we have great representatives here with us today.
This is a tremendous victory for American farmers, ranchers, and, of course, European consumers because American beef is considered the best in the world.
We are delighted to be joined today by Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Censky, the European Union’s Ambassador to the United States Stavros Lambrinidis, and Representative of the Presidency of the Council of the EU Jani Raappana.
I also want to thank Senator John Hoeven, my friend, for being here, along — where’s John? John. Good job, John. Along with the President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Jennifer Houston. Thank you, Jennifer. And the President and CEO of the United States Meat Export Federation, Dan Halstrom. Thank you, Dan, very much. Congratulations.
The agreement we sign today will lower trade barriers in Europe and expand access for American farmers and ranchers. In year one, duty-free American beef exports to the EU will increase by 46 percent. Over seven years, they will increase by another 90 percent. In total, the duty-free exports will rise from $150 million to $420 million, an increase of over 180 percent.
My administration is standing up for our farmers and ranchers like never before. We’re protecting our farmers. We’re doing it in many ways, including with China. You may have read a little bit about China lately.
Agricultural products and exports have increased by more than $10 billion, and beef exports have increased by more than 31 percent. In another major win, we fully opened the Japanese market to U.S. beef. We also opened markets in Tunisia, Morocco, and Australia. I think you’re pretty happy about all of that, right? You’ve never seen anything like that happen before, have you? Huh?
MS. HOUSTON: We have not.
THE PRESIDENT: Not with your other Presidents, you haven’t. (Laughter.)
And we’re reducing burdensome regulations that unfairly impact agricultural producers. When our farmers became victims of unjustified retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries, we provided $28 billion, over a two-year period, in relief. They were targeted, and we took care of our farmers and ranchers. And I signed a historic farm bill, which provides our farmers with certainty and the kind of certainty that they need while supporting increased agricultural exports.
The agreement that we are about to sign keeps one more promise to the great patriots of American agriculture. These are indeed patriots. They’re always targeted first by other countries to try and take advantage of the United States. They’re the first to be targeted, but we take that target off their back.
Opening markets for our farmers is about more than just an industry, it’s about a way of life. Generations of hard work, passion, and dedication have gone into making America the largest producer of high quality beef anywhere in the world, by far. We’re proud of our farmers and ranchers. We love our farmers and ranchers. And with this announcement, we take one more step in giving them the level playing field that they have — looking — they’ve really been looking forward to this for many, many years. You folks know that. They want a level playing field. That’s all they want. And nobody can beat them. So I want to thank you all for being here.
And now I’d like to invite a very great gentleman, a friend of mine, and somebody that’s done a fantastic job for our country, Ambassador Lighthizer, to say a few words. And we’ll follow that up with some of the very high officials from the European Union. Thank you very much. Bob? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Thank you, Mr. President, for being here today and for your leadership in making trade policy work better for all Americans, but particularly our farmers and ranchers.
I’m pleased to be joined today here by Mr. Jani Raappana, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Finland — the EU member state that currently holds the Presidency of the Council of EU — and Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis, the Ambassador from the EU.
This agreement will nearly triple the duty-free access of American ranchers to high quality beef in Europe. Initial estimates indicate that U.S. beef will grow by over $270 million a year once the agreement is fully implemented.
With this new, exclusive country-specific quota, American ranchers have a guaranteed market share in Europe. We look forward to the European Union approving this agreement expeditiously.
AMBASSADOR RAAPPANA: Good morning. Mr. President, Ambassador Lighthizer, ladies and gentlemen, I’m honored to be one of the signatories of this EU-U.S. hormone-free beef agreement.
Thanks to this new arrangement, a very substantial amount of existing quota will be ring-fenced for the USA. This provides a solution to our longstanding dispute in the WTO.
Let me underline that the negotiations for this agreement we are conducting is good spirit and it’s a great example of how the multilateral trading system can work for settling trade disputes.
With this agreement, the EU reaffirms its commitment to a positive transatlantic trade agenda and a new phase in the EU-U.S. relationship.
The agreement will be announced to the European Parliament, and we hope to obtain soon — obtain the consent as soon as possible.
I would also like to highlight that strengthening the EU trade relations with the U.S. is a priority of the Finnish presidency.
Finally, I wish to thank all the negotiators on both sides for their efforts. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR LAMBRINIDIS: Mr. President, Ambassador Lighthizer, dear friends from the American farming community, ladies and gentlemen: Today is about delivering real, positive, tangible results in the transatlantic trade relationship — the strongest, biggest relationship in the world.
Our companies, our farmers, make more money investing trading with each other than we do with anyone else in the world.
But, Mr. President, last year in the Rose Garden with President Juncker, you said you wanted more. You wanted to strengthen this relationship for the benefit of all Americans and all Europeans. And, in this spirit, we’re here today signing this agreement.
Indeed, it can more than double the hormone-free beef exports of U.S. farmers to the EU. This is a great day for American farmers. It’s a great day for European consumers.
And, of course, we’re working on so many other areas of progress. In soybeans, exports to the European Union have seen a massive increase over the past year. LNG exports have seen a significant boost, as well, in shipments, fortifying security of supply and diversity.
And we’re working on many other things: fortifying the WTO, negotiating on regulatory matters, including standards. Mr. President, I mention standards because, for us, it’s a highlight of the fact that trade is not just about money, it is also about values. It’s about making sure that high standards are used and upheld to deal with unfair competition.
And as we are dealing with fair competition here today, there are countries around the world that are not simply exporting cheap, subsidized products; they’re also trying to export cheap labor standards, weak governance, poor environmental standards.
And the agreement that we signed today shows us, as partners, we can solve problems. And as partners, together in the spirit of this partnership, we can also try to shape a world that is based on strong, open values and strong, open rules.
Thank you very much. It’s a great honor for the European Union to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR LAMBRINIDIS: Oh, may I say, I asked for a hat. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I like those hats.
AMBASSADOR LAMBRINIDIS: And they told me —
MS. HOUSTON: We’ll make that happen.
AMBASSADOR LAMBRINIDIS: They told me I don’t deserve it.
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll get you one. (Laughter.)
MS. HOUSTON: Yeah, we can make that happen.
AMBASSADOR LAMBRINIDIS: I have not earned it yet, they say. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. John, please.
SENATOR HOEVEN: Well, thank you, Mr. President. This is what our ranchers and our farmers, our producers across this great country, are after. These are the kind of agreements that really make a difference. And that’s what this is about. This is about access to markets. We produce the highest-quality beef anywhere in the world. They have great hats, but they have great cattle. They do a great job. Our ranchers across this country are absolutely the best in the world. So when we get access to markets, then they can really go to town and outcompete really anybody, anywhere.
So whether it’s the ranchers or farmers, whether it’s livestock, whether it’s crops, this is the kind of agreement we need. Again, I want to express appreciation to the President and to his whole team — to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, certainly to USTR Lighthizer, to Ambassador Doud, to the whole team. They’re working very hard on behalf of agriculture.
You know about the assistance they’re providing, but that assistance is because our farmers and our ranchers have been targeted by China and other countries. So the administration and USDA is standing up for our farmers while they’re negotiating these kinds of agreements. And I’m anxious to see what they can do with Japan.
And we’ve got to get the USMCA through the Congress. We need the House to bring it up. The Senate is ready to go. We’re ready to pass it with a big, bipartisan vote.
But each of these steps are critically important for our farmers. And again, on behalf of all of us in the Senate that work in agriculture, this is what we want — these kind of agreements — tripling what we can put into the beef that we can export to Europe under this agreement between the United States and Europe.
So again, congratulations. And on behalf of agriculture, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Great, John. Thank you very much.
MS. HOUSTON: Yes, this is a great day for — (the President lowers the microphone) — thank you — (laughter) — for America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen. And thank you, Mr. President, to you and all of your trade team for your diligence. Because, for years, it’s been difficult for us to get access to the European Union because of some non-tariff and restricted tariff trade practices.
And we want them to be able to enjoy the high-quality beef that our American farmers and ranchers produce everywhere, that’s enjoyed by the rest of the world. And we’re so excited that our European families — and thank you to all that — are going to be able to enjoy that high-quality beef.
Thanks again, Mr. President, for your support of America’s farmers and ranchers and all to your trade team. And to you all, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MR. KESTER: Well, that was unexpected, but — (laughter).
Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll — my name is Kevin Kester. I’m immediate past president for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and I’m a rancher from California. I’ll just briefly say that I’m a fifth generation. I have a seventh-generation family on the ranch. And we will directly benefit from this new agreement with the European Union. And so we’re very thankful to that.
So thank you to the EU, and thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Congratulations. Very Good.
MR. HALSTROM: Thank you, Mr. President. I’m Dan Halstrom, President and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. And on behalf of all of our members in agriculture throughout the United States, and our beef producers especially, we’d like to say thank you. This is an honor and a great day for us, with our European Union friends, for expanded access. And we really do appreciate everything that the President and the administration is doing on behalf of the farmers of America. So, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY CENSKY: Thank you. Steve Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. And I again wanted to express my appreciation and our appreciation on behalf of all of U.S. farmers and ranchers for the leadership of you, Mr. President, for making it a priority to stand up and fight for market access for U.S. producers. This is a great day to celebrate, and we look forward to more wins like this.
So thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great job, Steve.
(The agreement is signed.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Congratulations. And we’re working on deal where the European Union will agree to pay a 25 percent tariff on all Mercedes-Benz’s, BMWs, coming into our nation. So, we appreciate that. I’m only kidding. (Laughter.) They started to get a little bit worried. They started — thank you.
Congratulations. Best beef in the world. Thank you very much.