Italian farmers oppose EU-Mercosur trade deal: Italy's agriculture minister

Stock photo.
Stock photo.

Italy’s farm sector strongly opposes the trade deal that the European Commission reached with the Mercosur group of South American countries in June, Italian agriculture minister Gian Marco Centinaio said on Monday.

“We express a strong concern,” Centinaio told reporters in Brussels. He said he believed the Italian government would oppose the deal, which requires a majority vote from EU states to be approved.

He said the deal was like a “gun aimed at the head” of Italy’s farm sector, as it offered no guarantees. “There will be an invasion of products,” said Centinaio, who is a close ally to the far-right deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini.

It comes after the EU Agriculture Minister Phil Hogan there are a lot of misinformation and misplaced facts in relation to the EU-Mercosur trade agreement.

Speaking EU Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries meeting yesterday in Brussels Hogan said the meeting is an opportunity to "present what is actually in the agreement as there is a lot of misinformation and misplaced facts in relation to the content of the deal."

He said the negotiations were difficult, especially around agriculture but the EU, he said, ring fenced sensitive products such as beef and arrived at quotes rather than full liberalisation of sensitive products.

Irish beef farmers understand that this is a better deal than was on the table in 2004 when there was up to 170,000t on the table, without any segmentation around chilled or frozen beef, he told journalists ahead of the meeting and that he hoped they would see it is a balanced outcome.

"I hope our farmers and ministers will read this document more carefully" and see we have a balanced outcome in the context of long and protracted negotiations which saw significant gains on the industrial side and reduced our concessions on agriculture, he said.

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"No product will arrive from Mercusur countries without complying with existing EU food safety standards," he said and that the EU can decide what slaughter houses in the Mercosur countries can export to the EU.


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