The trade of bivalve molluscan shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops will resume between the EU & the US at the end of February

The trade of bivalve molluscan shellfish such as mussels, oysters and scallops will resume between the EU & the US at the end of February

As from the end of February, trade of molluscan shellfish – such as mussels, clams, oysters and scallops – will resume between the EU and the US, after a ten-years of trade disruption.

Two EU Member States, Spain and the Netherlands, will be allowed to export molluscan shellfish to the US, whilst two American states (Massachusetts and Washington) can do the same to the EU. The Commission adopted the legislation to that effecton 04 February last.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, said, “I warmly welcome this deal, which resolves a long-standing issue we have been working hard to unlock. It shows that our efforts to forge a positive, forward-looking trade agenda with the United States are paying off. Since the EU-US summit in June 2021, we have made several breakthroughs: grounding the Airbus-Boeing dispute, launching the Trade and Technology Council and pausing our steel and aluminium trade dispute. All these achievements, plus this latest resumption of trade in bivalve molluscs, help to create sustainable economic growth and jobs for our workers”.

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Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said, “We are delighted that trustful transatlantic EU-US cooperation is reopening an important trade pathway between the EU and the US on bivalve molluscs. This is good news for food operators and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Commerce shall resume shortly, and I look forward to the extension of this opportunity to more EU Member States in the near future”.

The news was welcomed in the US by President of the National Fisheries Institute, John Connelly, who said, “Today’s announcement from the United States Trade Representative (USTR), that live, raw, and processed bivalve molluscan shellfish trade to and from the EU will resume is a welcome development.  This agreement creates new markets for many U.S. exporters of Massachusetts and Washington states’ molluscan shellfish.

“The bilateral agreement also allows EU producers in Spain and the Netherlands to export live and raw bivalve molluscan shellfish to the United States.

“Trade in products like oysters, clams, mussels, and whole or roe-on scallops has been disrupted for nearly a decade.  Now these highly sought-after U.S. products will have new markets, free of nonscientific trade barriers.

“We applaud Ambassador Tai and her USTR team for their hard work during this long and laborious process.  We urge USTR to ensure that the EU continues to follow through on its commitment to further open EU markets to all other processed molluscan shellfish products such as clams from the U.S. The economic opportunity presented by today’s agreement should be fully realized for American seafood workers throughout the entire U.S. supply chain.” 

The Commission and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have been discussing the recognition of each other’s production systems to allow bilateral trade of these products. Due to differences in regulatory standards, trade in live molluscan shellfish had not been possible between the EU and the US since 2011.

In 2015, both sides carried out on-the-spot audits and, following years of discussions, the Commission and the FDA recommended that the food safety systems for the production of raw bivalve molluscs in the two US states (Massachusetts and Washington) and the two EU Member States can be considered equivalent. 

The EU therefore added the two US States to the list of third countries from which bivalve molluscs can be imported into the EU.

The FDA, on its part, published a Notice in the US Federal Register informing the public and stakeholders about the forthcoming opening of the American market to the import of EU bivalve molluscs from Spain and the Netherlands. 

Another significant feature is that other EU Member States could also be allowed to export these products to the US following a simplified authorisation procedure agreed between EU and US.

This is the first time that FDA has issued an equivalence determination providing EU producers access to the US market.

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EU and US resumes trade in bivalve molluscs but only from Spain and the Netherlands

by editor time to read: 7 min