EU keen to get Mercosur deal over line as trade war with US ramps up
Increasing EU beef imports makes no sense - IFA
Talks on a trade deal between the EU and South American Mercosur bloc are heating up this summer.
The renewed momentum has come largely from the EU side, which is keen to ink a deal in the wake of an escalating trade war with the US.
The message to the US is that the EU is "open for business", and it is likely to trump farmers' fears over an increase in the beef quota on offer to the four Mercosur states: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
According to EU sources, the beef quota will not exceed 99,000 tonnes, a limit that has been set by French president Emmanuel Macron, and agreed with Commission negotiators.
The French minister for agriculture Stéphane Travert was in Cork over the weekend for talks with agriculture minister Michael Creed, where Mercosur was also on the agenda.
A make or break round of talks between EU and South American negotiators is due to take place in Brussels next week, led by the bloc's trade chief, Cecilia Malmström, and also featuring agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.
Ireland is in a group of around 10 countries concerned about increased imports of beef, sugar, poultry, ethanol, rice and orange juice from Mercosur. EU farmers' federation Copa and Cogeca sent a letter to Ms Malmström last week asking her to minimise concession for beef and the other sensitive agricultural sectors, and said farmers were already under additional pressure from a reduced CAP budget, climate constraints and Brexit.
"At a time when European farmers face additional restrictions on their activities and are implementing measures to adapt to climate change, other trade partners are increasing their land under production at the expense of deforestation," said the group's secretary-general Pekka Pesonen.