Ireland is very supportive of an EU/US trade deal according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, despite criticism of its impact on Irish agriculture from many groups.

The Minister spoke on the issue on his return from the Dail summer recess this week. He stated that an agreement between the world’s two major trading blocs has the potential to increase growth and grow jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“In the agri-food sector we have strong offensive interests, both in terms of market access and in eliminating some of the irritants that hinder trade.

“We are seeking substantial market access for our dairy products and in the prepared foods area. We also want to see action to action to address the question of Grade A equivalence for dairy and the licensing system that applies to dairy imports into the US.”

However the Minister also noted that there is of course we have sensitivities as well.

“One of these is our beef sector. While we see some opportunities for establishing a niche market in the US for Irish beef, we have concerns regarding the prospect of increased beef imports into the EU.

“I have raised these concerns on a number of occasions with the EU Commission. I have proposed that Ireland’s sensitivities are reflected in the size and composition of any quota offered to the US. I have argued that the size of the quota should not exceed European market absorption capacity, which is substantially reduced according to the latest forecasts.

“I have also proposed that the quota should be designed – via end use conditions – to ensure that imports are not all concentrated on high value cuts and I have argued that an in-quota tariff rate should continue to apply to imports within the quota.”

Minister Coveney outlined that the most recent report of the European Parliament on the trade implications of the EU US trade bears out these Irish concerns in relation to the suckler cow herd in Europe which it finds will be adversely affected by the trade deal.

“In my meetings with the new Agriculture Commissioner I will continue to outline our concerns and seek mitigating measures in relation to the beef sector.”