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Sunday 22 April 2018

'Don't get hung up on Mercosur deal' says Hogan

Access to Asian markets immediate priority for EU Commissioner

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. Image: EU
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan. Image: EU

Claire Fox

The ball is now in the court of the Mercosur countries to decide what deal they'll offer Europe in return for increased access to the EU's prime beef market, European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan has said.

Commissioner Hogan said that following talks with Mercosur countries last week regarding increasing its access in to the EU's prime beef market, the Mercosur countries must now decide what they'll offer the EU in return.

"The ball is in the court of the Mercosur countries. They can't seem to decide amongst themselves on what they're prepared to offer us in return for concessions for agriculture," he said at the the Professional Agricultural Contractors of Ireland Conference (PAC).

"We'll see in March what their latest proposals will be."

Ireland and a coalition of over 10 EU states are currently lobbying to restrict the potential beef offer well below 100,000 tonnes, but Mr Hogan pointed out that Europe "will need to offer a little over 70,000 tonnes" to strike a deal with the Mercosur countries.

Around 99,000t of beef access is expected to be offered, however, this has not been confirmed.

Mr Hogan explained that other EU countries would benefit from the increased market access for car trade in the Mercosur countries and that it's not just a beef debate.

"I will be protecting European agriculture as best I can but a lot of Member states will see the industrial benefits side of the equation so it's not just about beef," he said.

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"If it did happen, a Mercosur deal won't come in to effect for ten years.

"What I'm trying to do is look at markets at the moment in Mexico, in Japan and in China which would give all of our products immediate market access.

"I think that people shouldn't get too hung up on negotiations that won't be implemented for many years," he said.

"Therefore the immediate access to China for infant formula or for beef or for dairy in to Mexico - these are the issues that are taking my full attention."

Mr Hogan repeated his warning that dairy farmers should heed market warnings about "unsustainable" milk production and added that co-ops should play a key role in guiding farmers on market signals.

"I think that farmers should understand more than anybody that demand and supply is going to dictate the price they get for their product and they're in a global market," he warned.

"Co-ops should help them gauge supply and demand and to meet those market opportunities as to not put them in the position of having an unsustainably low price."


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