Farm Ireland

Friday 21 July 2017

Mercosur stalled until November

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Mercosur trade talks have been kicked to touch until November, with the EU Commission admitting that it will not be in a position to agree the outline of a deal until later this year at the earliest.

The EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, claimed recently that Europe would be ready to table an "exchange of offers" on market access by the end of June.

However, following the latest round of talks in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion last week, the EU Commission confirmed that the process has been delayed.

Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos confirmed that no date was set for the exchange of offers and that it would be "premature" to do so at the moment.

"We have not set any date. We want to ensure that the offers are of good quality and we should not allow timing to prevail over substance," Commissioner Ciolos said.

"When we will be ready we will jointly agree on a date for a simultaneous exchange," he added.

The Agriculture Commissioner also denied that there had been an oral exchange of offers on market access.

"We will do the oral exchange before the exchange of written offers. Since the work is still ongoing, it was premature to do it at this stage."


The next two rounds of talks are set for early July in Brussels and November in Uruguay. But Commission sources claimed that an exchange of offers was now extremely unlikely before the Uruguay round of meetings.

There has been widespread opposition to the trade talks with Mercosur -- which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay -- since they were reopened in May last year.

A recent study on behalf of the agriculture arm of the Commission, DG Agri, found that a trade deal would lead to an 8pc drop in EU beef prices.

A deal would also put downward pressure on incomes, with Irish farmers particularly exposed because of their reliance on beef exports into the lucrative EU retail market.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Ciolos insisted that he remained "optimistic" that CAP funding for 2013-2020 would not be slashed in the upcoming EU budget negotiations.

Proposals on the EU budget to 2020 are expected to be tabled in June. The formal legislative proposals on CAP reform will then be published in late October or early November, Commissioner Ciolos said.

He claimed it would have been foolish to present a new CAP package without some indication on the likely level of funding available to farming following the EU budget negotiations.

On the introduction of any new regime to calculate the Single Farm Payment, the Commissioner accepted that a transition period would be needed before any such changes could be made.

However, he declined to say how long any such transition period would be.

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