Progressing with Mercosur trade talks would be reckless – ICMSA

The idea of progressing with Mercosur trade talks has been deemed reckless by the President of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) John Comer.

Comer was reacting to reports circulating today that the Argentine President is confident that a deal between the South American Mercosur group of states and the EU will be signed by the end of this year.

He believes the prospect of an agreement would be hugely destabilising in the context of the massive uncertainty generated by Brexit.

Any possibility of a Mercosur agreement was premised on the idea of massively-increased imports of South American beef, in volumes that had to severely impact the prices and incomes of indigenous EU farmers, Comer said.

This was even before the possibility of the UK market becoming harder to access through tariffs and quotas, he added.

The ICMSA has previously called for the Irish Government to insist on the immediate suspension of the ongoing talks around both Mercosur and TTIPS, he said.

The association believes the talks should be suspended, until such time as the situation around the UK’s leaving becomes clearer.

To even contemplate ‘throwing open’ the EU market to huge volumes of South American food imports while the domestic EU situation was so fluid and uncertain was absolutely reckless and could not be considered as a serious proposal, Comer said.

The possibility of an agreement by the year’s end has to be firmly taken off the table; on the grounds that the EU would be unable to enter into any damaging international trade agreement, until such time as the Brexit challenge was dealt with fully.

“In addition to that reality, there was also the pressing and still unresolved matter of the widespread fraud recently uncovered in the Brazilian meat industry and the impossibility of continuing to place trust in a sector that had so demonstrably and repeatedly failed to meet its own dubious standards,” he said.

The Irish Government must move immediately to convince other member states, and the EU itself, that it is “overwhelmingly in the EU’s interests” that no Mercusor agreement is concluded, or even continued with, Comer added.