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Science key to EU deal

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) — A planned European Union/United States trade deal needs to eliminate non-scientific barriers that prevent U.S. farmers from selling genetically modified crops and some chemically treated meats in Europe, the U.S. agriculture secretary said recently.

The two sides aim to create the world’s largest free-trade pact, whose advocates say it could boost their economies by $100 billion US a year each. But after a year of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, agriculture is emerging as one of the most difficult areas.

The European Union has ruled out importing meat from animals raised with added hormones and said that it will not open the door to GM crops.

U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said difficult issues needed to be addressed, with the common goal of opening markets and eliminating “non-scientific barriers.”

Hong Kong allows beef

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — Hong Kong has agreed to lift trade restrictions on certain types of American beef, a move that should boost exports to what is already the fourth-largest export market for American beef and beef products, the United States said last week.

In 2003, Hong Kong banned all U.S. beef following the detection of a BSE-positive animal in the U.S. It relaxed parts of the ban in 2005 and in 2013.

Until now, only deboned beef from all cattle and certain bone-in beef from cattle younger than 30 months could be shipped from the United States to Hong Kong.

EU tops U.S. in exports

LONDON, U.K./CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — The European Union is likely to surpass the United States as the top world wheat exporter next season as high freight rates help EU suppliers tighten their grip on nearby markets in the Middle East and expand sales in Asia.

A rise in freight costs has hurt U.S. sales to Egypt, the world’s top wheat buyer, while its shipments to another buyer, Iran, have been affected by political tension.

The EU, Ukraine and Russia now dominate many markets that previously relied on the United States.

Australia exports up

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) — Australia raised its forecast for beef exports in the 2014-15 marketing year by nearly eight percent June 17 as dry conditions across the east coast mean farmers are slaughtering livestock at a near-record pace.

Shipments from Australia, the world’s third largest exporter, are expected to total 1.12 million tonnes this season, the government’s official commodities forecaster said, the second highest on record amid rising demand from China.

About nine million head of cattle are expected to be slaughtered in 2014-15, but an upward revision in Australia’s cattle herd by more than one million head to 28 million animals, means Australia remains well stocked, analysts say.

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