Creed insists EU hasn’t raised Mercosur beef bid

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has refuted claims that the EU has raised its potential offer for Mercosur beef access from 70,000t to 99,000t per year in a bid to close the deal.

As two weeks of trade talks between chief negotiators conclude in Brussels – without a clear breakthrough – Minister Creed has insisted that the EU’s original offer of 70,000t is the only proposal on the table.

Speaking to AgriLand today, Minister Creed said: “My clear understanding – and I’ve been talking to the EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan – and what’s on the table is 70,000t.

There is no other formal offer from the European Union on the table at this moment in time.

However, earlier this week a parliamentary source indicated to AgriLand that the EU has conceded to increase its beef import quota offer by almost 30,000t in an attempt to reach agreement on the long-running negotiations.

According to the source, 99,000t is a red line figure for the EU as there is no desire to move beyond the 100,000t mark.

Minister Creed has downplayed the mooted development.

“We’ve consistently said that 70,000t is 70,000t too many. I’ve always acknowledged that there are other forces at play here that are very pro-active in terms of wanting a deal.

“However, our opposition has not just been to 70,000t; but, to putting beef on the table at all.

I’ve met with Commission Hogan and the Taoiseach who has also spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron; there is a relentless opposition from us on this.

“As I understand, the next move is in the court of the Mercosur countries to come back to the commission,” he said.

Meanwhile, the minister highlighted that securing beef market access to China is a “very high priority” for his department as the final stages draw near.

“This week we have a delegation from the department in China; they are working through the details.

“I’m slow to put an access date on it; but we’re making every effort,” he said.