US trade clash looms

THE PROSPECT of a new transatlantic trade clash loomed last night as the EU moved to extend a ban on hormone-treated beef until the completion of safety tests, expected at the end of the year, writes Stephen Castle in Brussels.

The decision means Europe will continue with restrictions beyond 13 May, the deadline set a year ago by the World Trade Organisation, for them to be lifted.

The decision comes as Brussels and Washington are locked in battle over the EU's banana import regime, and amid fears that a third dispute will erupt over genetically-modified foods.

Yesterday the European Commission set out three possible courses of action to cover the period between 13 May and the end of the year, by which time the safety tests on hormone-treated should be completed.

The Commission will consult ministers of the 15 EU states and the European Parliament before settling on a course of action..