EEC Likely to Delay Tough Duties : Foreign Ministers to Discuss Conflict Over U.S. Meats

Associated Press

European foreign ministers probably will delay their tough duties on some U.S. imports in an effort to defuse tensions over a European ban on hormone-treated meat from America, officials said today.

The foreign ministers of the 12 nations of the European Economic Community will meet Monday to discuss the conflict, which was sparked Jan. 1 when the trading bloc imposed a prohibition on U.S. meat from cattle treated with growth hormones.

The ban affected about $100 million in sales of U.S. beef and veal.


Washington countered with 100% duties on a range of European food imports, also affecting about $100 million in trade.

Nico Wegter, a community spokesman, said the foreign ministers will be asked to put into effect as soon as possible countermeasures that would slap stiff duties on American imports of dried fruit and walnuts.

However, other officials said that a number of countries appear to want to defer setting a date to give the two sides more time to resolve the dispute, particularly with George Bush being sworn in as the new U.S. President today.

The officials, who demanded anonymity, said the ministers may also want to await the outcome of a Feb. 8 meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Appeal to GATT Intended

The EEC intends to ask the 96-nation GATT to declare the U.S. retaliatory measures in violation of the international body’s rules.

The Geneva-based GATT attempts to remove trade barriers and ensure the free movement of goods worldwide.

Many U.S. farmers treat their animals with growth hormones, a practice U.S. officials said is safe. The EEC said it believes that such meat poses a health risk.