EU trade deal will hit beef sector
The Irish Government has been called upon to ensure that agriculture is not used as a "bargaining chip" in any new negotiations with South American countries.
It comes as there appears to be renewed focus at EU level in striking a trade deal between Europe and the Mercosur countries including beef powerhouse Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela.
The body representing meat factories, Meat Industry Ireland (MII), warned that a new push at Brussels level could have repercussions for the Irish meat sector, particularly beef, but also pigmeat and poultry.
"The Irish Government must ensure that the agriculture sector is not used as a bargaining chip in any new Mercosur negotiations," Cormac Healy, a director of MII, said.
The ICSA's president Patrick Kent warned of the dangers of signing up to any such deal that would open EU markets to greater quantities of lower price South American beef.
He said any deal that lowers or eliminates tariffs on South American imports will undermine the price of Irish exports to both the UK and continental Europe.
"It is hard to see what Ireland can gain out of a deal with the Mercosur bloc but it is abundantly clear that beef will lose," said Mr Kent.
Mr Healy said he could see no benefit to the Irish agri-food sector and he questioned the benefits to the wider economy.