Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 28 July 2017

Mercosur-EU talks to begin this month

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Trade talks between the EU Commission and the Mercosur trading bloc will kick off at the end of the month.

The Commission has confirmed that the first round of technical negotiations will open in the Argentine capital, Buenos Airies, on Tuesday, June 29.

The talks process is expected to last for up to a year.

The opening of talks between the EU and the South American group -- which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay -- has been strongly criticised by the Irish farm organisations.

The process has also been opposed by several EU member States, including France and Ireland.

However, the talks have received strong backing from the Commission.

The push for bilateral trade agreements with Latin American states was intensified at a recent EU summit in Madrid, Spain, where the Commission held talks with the Caribbean trading group CARIFORUM, as well as Peru and Colombia.

However, Brussels sources have suggested that the talks process could stall as opposition from member states increases and the process is given less priority under the incoming Belgian presidency.


Belgium takes over the EU presidency from Spain on July 1 and is not expected to drive the talks agenda as fervently as their predecessors.

Liberalisation

The Commission has indicated that it wants a broad-based with Mercosur. A statement released by Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed that the EU would seek full liberalisation for a very large part of trade in goods and concessions for all major industrial sectors.

Irish farm leaders fear the payback for greater access to the growing South American economies will be an easing of trade tariffs on agricultural goods into the EU, particularly beef and poultry products.

Farm organisations have warned that any increase in the Mercosur beef quota would be targeted at the lucrative EU steak cuts market, which accounts for 700,000t of the Union's total beef consumption of 8m tonnes.

Farmer representatives argue that an increase of even 100,000t would destabilise this market and undermine returns to beef farmers across the EU.

Irish Independent