Mercosur and Brexit 'double whammy' for beef sector
A "double whammy" from Brexit and Mercosur threatens to derail Ireland's beef sector, Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has warned.
Amid reports that Europe is on the cusp of offering the South American bloc major concessions on beef imports into the EU to secure a trade deal, MII said such a move would leave the Irish beef sector "seriously exposed".
The ICMSA and IFA have backed MII calls for the Irish Government to block moves by the European Commission to complete the Mercosur trade deal.
The drive to secure a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur has gathered pace over the last month, with Commission officials pushing to conclude negotiations by Christmas.
EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker told the MEPs last week that concluding a trade agreement with Mercosur - which includes the beef exporting giants of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay - was now a priority for Europe.
Suggestions in Brussels of preferential access for a further 85,000t of South American beef, have infuriated farm leaders.
European farmers' organisation Copa and Cogeca chief Pekka Pesonen said the move would have a "catastrophic" impact on the EU beef sector, particularly as beef consumption is falling.
He said the EU was "not getting much in return" for opening up its market to cheaper South American imports, which he said could also threaten EU food safety and animal health standards. "We cannot continue to use this important European sector as the bargaining chip for other areas," Mr Pesonen added.