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Friday 23 February 2018

EU farmers warn negotiators against making concessions in South American trade talks

REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Ahead of the Ministerial meeting between the EU and Latin American trade bloc Mercosur, European farm union Copa and Cogeca urged the EU not to increase its offer on agriculture in the trade talks.

The concerns were outlined in a letter sent to the EU Council, MEPs, European Commissioners for Trade and Agriculture and Rural Development Cecilia Malmström and Phil Hogan and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, ahead of EU Farm Ministers meeting on January 29 and the Ministerial meeting on January 30.

Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said the EU has given far too much on agriculture to the Mercosur countries in the negotiations, without getting much in return.

"A Joint Research Centre (JRC) report shows a potential trade deal could cost the EU agricultural sector over 7 billion euros.

“The majority of EU beef, sugar, poultry and orange juice imports already come from these countries. Over 75% of beef imported into the EU, mainly high value cuts, are from Mercosur countries. For broilers, an extended offer in cuts could lead to a loss of outlets for 150 million broilers produced in the EU, reducing growth and jobs in our rural areas”, added Pesonen.

“The sugar and ethanol sectors are also heavily subsidised by Mercosur countries. These countries have not shown any commitment to reduce this. We consequently urge the EU to keep duties on imports in order to avoid oversupply on our domestic market and to ensure a level playing field”, Pesonen said.

“EU rice production is also under pressure. A potential trade deal with Mercosur countries would also hit our markets for fresh oranges and orange juice”, explained Pesonen.

He called on the EU to minimize market access for beef, sugar, poultry, ethanol, rice and orange juice imports to the EU in the talks.

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“In view of the major uncertainties in the Brexit talks, combined with discussions on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and EU budget, we reject any concessions in the talks. Farmers and their cooperatives should not have to pay the price of a potential trade deal with Mercosur countries in return for concessions in other sectors”, Pesonen concluded.


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