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Sunday 20 May 2018

Meat factories call on Government to block EU moves for trade deal with South American countries

REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Meat processor representatives are putting pressure on the Government to block EU moves to complete a trade deal with a host of South American countries.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec group representing the Irish meat processing and export sector, has today called on Government to block moves by the European Commission to complete the deal.

The group has expressed concern that this unbalanced deal would significantly undermine the EU beef market, with particular repercussions for the Irish beef sector.

Cormac Healy, Director of MII said that given the huge uncertainty we face in the context of Brexit, coupled with the findings of the European Commission's own impact assessment report that states a trade deal with Mercosur would have serious negative implications for the EU beef market, it is completely unacceptable that the European Commission would push ahead with more concessions on beef imports. 

“These negotiations have been stumbling along for twenty years in a stop-start fashion, largely due to Mercosur's own inability to act as a cohesive customs union and trade bloc, so now is certainly not the time to rush a deal over the line.

"While the outcome of Brexit is still uncertain, it has the potential to cause serious disruption to the EU beef market, sending the EU-27 market into massive beef surplus. A Mercosur deal that would allow any additional volume of concessionary beef imports onto the EU market must be avoided.

"As Ireland is the main exporter of beef to the rest of the EU market, the Irish cattle and beef sector would suffer the greatest consequences of this deal. 

The Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, must pursue a whole-of-government approach that ensures an unbalanced Mercosur deal does not destabilise the domestic or EU beef market further," he said.

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As trade liberalsiing talks between the EU and Latin American trade bloc Mercosur intensify, EU farmers body Copa and Cogeca hit out at plans to include beef in a potential trade deal with Mercosur, warning it would threaten quality EU beef supplies, growth and jobs in rural areas.

Speaking in Brussels, Chairman of Copa and Cogeca Beef Working Party Jean-Pierre Fleury said “We are very worried about the move, as the Mercosur trade deal would have a severe impact on EU agriculture, especially the beef sector. This is particularly worrying as meat consumption has already declined by 20% in the past decade and we still don’t know yet the impact of Brexit on the EU agriculture sector”.  

“Moreover, we have some of the highest food safety and animal welfare standards in the world which imports from these countries do not have”, he said.


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