TTIP trade deal won't be 'done at any price' says Hogan

European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.
European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Michael Cogley

Europe remains anxious to strike a trade deal with the United States but won't do it at any price, European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said.

The commissioner described the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks as slow and said the EU now has a short space within which to complete the TTIP negotiations before the US election.

"We have a window of opportunity between now and February - otherwise politics will probably take over," he said at last week's Agri-Food Strategy Group's conference in Dublin last week.

"We'll have to see I suppose this week if there's seriousness on the part of the United States to do a deal with Europe. Europe is anxious to do a deal but not at any price."

The commissioner said the delay in getting the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks concluded has delayed the Europe-US discussions.

"Europe has made a substantial offer as far back as 2014 and has not received the reciprocate commitments that it was expecting to receive. Perhaps that's due to the TPP negotiations," the commissioner said.

The ICSA's president Patrick Kent warned the beef sector was the "loser" in all of the trade deals and the potential for a separate deal with South American countries forming Mercosur could not be ruled out.

Brussels-based think tank Farm Europe has also warned it expected the EU would have to grant significant market access to hormone-free beef and any agreement would at least match the deal struck with Canada to admit 50,000 tonnes of beef from the EU.

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Canadian market

Meanwhile, Commissioner Hogan welcomed the opening up of the Canadian market - closed since 1996 amid BSE concerns - to 19 EU states.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney also confirmed the market was opening for Irish beef in the Gulf state of Oman. An agreement has also been struck for exports to Oman of sheepmeat.

Mr Coveney said there would be no restriction on the age of cattle from which beef can be exported to the "potentially valuable market" that appreciates "premium quality foods".

Richard Clinton, group commercial director, Dawn Meats said their business team have already been work to make links in the Canadian marketplace in advance of the opening. "Dawn Meats was a significant exporter of Irish beef to Canada before it closed," he said.

ICMSA's Michael Guinan said the opening of the market was the latest in a series of annoucments of potential new purchasers of Irish beef but he said producers must see the benefits in terms of prices.

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