Dail ratification ‘the perfect opportunity’ to halt Mercosur deal

The decision that any trade agreement between the Mercosur group and the EU will now have to be ratified by the parliaments of each member state has given Ireland “a perfect opportunity” to pull the handbrake.

This is the view of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

The recent EU decision, according to ICMSA president Pat McCormack, is a chance to stop “a potentially catastrophic development for the Irish beef sector”.

This comes following yesterday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council which confirmed that member states will have to individually approve any proposed agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc via their own domestic ratification process.

Commenting on this, McCormack said that it is difficult to imagine that any deputy in the Dail who understood anything about the Irish multi-billion euro beef exports would support an agreement “designed to facilitate the importation of massive amounts of South American beef raised with lower food safety standards and produced from an environmentally destructive system”.

The president said the imported South American beef would likely be sold into our existing markets at prices “designed to undercut” Irish beef exports  – which, he said, are produced sustainably under the most stringent regulatory system in the world.

The Government’s negotiating position has now been strengthened considerably and it is essential that the perfect opportunity provided to protect to our vulnerable and valuable beef sector is taken.

McCormack confirmed that, in the event of a Mercusor agreement being put to the Oireachtas, the ICMSA would be active.

He said his organisation would contact every political party and TD to explain why the national interest, food safety and environmental logic pointed to the rejection of any proposed Mercosur agreement that involves increased South American beef imports.