Analysis: It's no surprise that Irish agri lobby has stayed very quiet on EU-Canada deal
Published 01/11/2016 | 18:00
It was three years ago when I last wrote about the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU.
Back then we were told the €26bn deal would be a scene-setter for an even bigger one between the US and the EU. However, here we are years later with the ink still not dry on a CETA, and the EU keen to show all those free-traders out there that it's just as easy to deal with as anyone else...which of course just isn't true.
The deal, which has been seven years in the making, nearly came unstuck at the last minute because of a Belgian region called Wallonia sticking to its guns over concerns about whether these deals will expose governments to legal suits from big corporations that don't get their way on state contracts.
While these concerns were legitimate, the realpolitik of the EU becoming increasingly anxious about being left behind in the race to carve up the planet's consumers in a massive web of bilateral deals forced it through without so much as a squeak from the usual suspects lobbying on behalf of Irish agriculture.
While Meat Industry Ireland (MII) was convulsed in "extreme" disappointment three years ago, this time they urged the pesky Wallonians to give way so that the deal could be signed.
Meanwhile, the Irish Dairy Industry Association openly welcomed the prospect of a deal last week, while the normally hard-to-please IFA were reported to be "happy" with the agreement.
Only the ICSA expressed real reservations, centring on the "bullying" of Wallonia. "Given the uncertainty around Brexit, the last thing we need is more beef being imported," said ICSA president Patrick Kent.
However, it appears that those at the heart of the negotiation from an Irish point of view are more concerned about staying ahead of the US and other big meat exporters in the negotiations that are on-going with Japan through the TTP talks.