The US, EU Revive Shellfish Trade

Denis Storey
March 30, 2022

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After more than a decade adrift, the United States and the European Union wrapped up talks in February for the “resumption of bilateral trade in bivalve molluscan shellfish.”

The agreement paves the way for Spain and the Netherlands to export chilled or frozen shellfish such as mussels, clams, and scallops to the United States while permitting Massachusetts and Washington to reciprocate.

“Today’s announcement represents a positive step in the trade relationship between the United States and the European Union,” Ambassador Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, explained in a press release. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to both addressing trade barriers and building new opportunities for U.S. producers, and we will continue to work to strengthen the U.S.-EU trade relationship.”

Conflicting regulatory standards eventually disrupted trade between the two regions in 2011.

After years of audits and talks, U.S. and EU officials discovered control systems for raw bivalve mollusks in the two American states, and the EU countries are comparable enough to pass regulatory muster.

“U.S. seafood producers, including many family-owned businesses, are internationally recognized for exporting safe, sustainable, and wholesome seafood — a valuable commodity in the global market,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo added. “The resumption of trade in key shellfish products like oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops highlights the competitiveness of our fishery resources.”

This agreement paves the way for other EU members to ink their shellfish trade deals with the United States.

“This is good news for food operators and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic,” EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said. “Commerce shall resume shortly, and I look forward to the extension of this opportunity to more EU Member States in the near future.”

In 2020, the United States was one of the world’s largest seafood exporters, with sales of seafood products exceeding $4.5 billion. In addition, the United States shipped more than $900 million in seafood to the European Union in 2021.

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