Less red tape?

The new Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) announced earlier this year as part of an effort to promote freer international trade could eliminate numerous trade barriers and "miles of red tape," according to GMA.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, GMA Vice President of Government Affairs Mary Sophus outlined key issues to reduce regulatory barriers and establish an open and international system. Packaging-oriented issues included: * Metric-only labeling. The 10-year extension of metric-only labeling requirements proposed by the European Commission should be accepted, said Sophus. If not, products prepared for the U.S. or EU market could not be shipped to the other continent without costly changes to packaging, labeling and product information. * Eco-labeling. Sophus criticized the EU-wide eco-labeling program and those used in individual member states, charging they are generally not based on sound science. Some issue eco seals on subjective criteria developed by local authorities, thereby often discriminating against international products. They mislead consumers and do not denote the overall environmental benefits of a product. Countries should use their local truth-in-advertising laws to ensure the environmental claims are truthful, not misleading to consumers and based on sound science, she said. * Nutrition claims. There should be an effort to develop equivalent labeling systems for nutrition and health benefit claims. * Extended producer responsibility. Noting the different approaches to solid-waste management, Sophus urged that action be taken to ensure these policies do not become a trade barrier. The EU requires manufacturers and retailers to be responsible for solid-waste management, while U.S. government policy shares responsibility among manufacturers, retailers and consumers. An amendment to a Senate agriculture appropriations bill requires front-panel country-of-origin marking for imported muscle cuts of beef and lamb, ground beef and lamb, and processed beef and lamb products. The House agriculture appropriations bill lacked such a requirement. A House-Senate conference will try to resolve the issue.

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