Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 18 November 2017

EU/Canada trade deal moves a step closer despite beef quota concerns

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Today, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, concluding the ratification process of this deal at the EU level.

Many customs duties on farm produce, processed foods and drinks will disappear.

Europe will be able to export nearly 92% of its agricultural and food products to Canada duty-free.  European exports to Canada's market of high-income consumers will become cheaper.

The European Commission says this will create new export opportunities for EU farmers and producers of  wines and spirits, fruit and vegetables, processed products and cheese.

However, Canada has secured a quota to export 55,000 ton of beef to the EU – this has particular resonance for Ireland.

Accoridng, to Irish MEP Luke Ming Flanagan, there is every reason to believe that the additional volumes allocated to Canada will be almost entirely served with high-quality hind cuts, especially rib and sirloin, in which case the 55,000-ton quota could equate to the high value cuts of approximately 800,000 head of cattle; to put this in context, Ireland’s weekly kill is about 30,000 head.

“Imports of this magnitude will decimate our beef industry,” he said.

The European Commission has stressed that all imports from Canada have to meet EU rules and regulations.  For example, only hormone-free meat will ever be imported into the EU.

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The four Fine Gael MEPs Seán Kelly, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Deirdre Clune, will voted in favour of the Trade Agreement to in their view boost trade and job creation across Europe and in Ireland.

“After 7 years of negotiations, with the full inclusion of various stakeholders including trade unions, NGOs, governments and more, an advanced, extensive trade agreement was achieved between the EU and Canada,” said Seán Kelly MEP and Leader of the Fine Gael Delegation, speaking on behalf of his colleagues.

“We know that every €1 billion in exports supports 14,000 European jobs. Let’s not forget that Ireland is an export-led economy, selling 80 percent of all products abroad. Put simply, more trade means more jobs. CETA presents a trading opportunity with a trusted, democratic country where almost 15pc of citizens claim Irish ancestry.”

Overall, the agreement is expected to raise the level of the EU’s annual GDP by around €12 billion per year and increase bilateral trade by €26 billion.

There are particular benefits for Ireland and especially for small to medium sized businesses with clearer rules for SMEs and a more competitive trade and export environment, with the Irish services sector set to benefit from free access to the Canadian services market too.

"Currently, EU food and agricultural exports face between 10-20pc tariffs with Canada.

"CETA will eliminate almost 92pc of tariffs meaning agricultural and food products to Canada will be duty free.

"However, it is also important to note that certain sensitive sectors, such as beef and pork will have limited quotas. CETA will also not open up the market for poultry and eggs in the EU or Canada. And of course, only hormone-free produce will be allowed into the EU," added Mr Kelly.

Online Editors