50 Years of Conflict and Convergence
Transatlantic trade in agricultural and food products is, in purely statistical terms, only a minor part of the larger trade relationship. But it has often played a more than proportional role in shaping the overall economic and, on occasions, political relationship across the Atlantic. At a time when the US and the EU are engaged in negotiating the most comprehensive agreement yet considered in transatlantic economic affairs it is instructive to look back at how transatlantic trade relations in agriculture and food have developed over the past 50 years. The five decades of US–EU interactions in food and agriculture covered in this book have been far from harmonious. This chapter attempts to draw some conclusions as to how such tensions arose, why they proved to be so troublesome and whether the conditions have improved to the point where one can envisage agricultural harmony. The starting point of transatlantic tensions in agricultural markets in the post-war period was clearly the process of integration that began in Europe in the 1950s. When the EU was established it faced fundamental choices as to how to deal with agriculture. The decision was made to include agriculture in the free movement of goods within the EU and to establish a common policy for the sector to manage the internal market (as discussed in Chapter 1).
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