Mercosur is reportedly prepared to offer the EU a streamlined rate of cutting import tariffs – but will look for the EU to accept more of its beef imports in return, one of the Mercosur negotiators has said, according to Reuters.

The South American trade bloc is believed to be willing to gradually reduce tariffs on European imports over a 10-year period for the majority of products, instead of the current proposal of at least 15 years, chief negotiator Horacio Reyser told Reuters in an interview last week.

However, in return Mercosur will demand a “substantial increase” in the EU’s offer in the proposal for a quota of 70,000t of tariff-free beef imports, which was made in October, the Argentine negotiator purportedly said.

Reyser, who is expected in Brussels this week for further talks on the matter, stressed that it will take “a year or a year and a half” at least before any deal is ratified.

Reyser tofd Reuters that Mercosur submitted a proposal to the European Commission this month, outlining its conditions for a deal, but declined to give details of the proposal.

Crippling potential impact of ‘Hard Brexit’

This will be very unwelcome news for Irish beef producers and the Irish meat industry, and follows hot on the heels of a new report on the potential impact of a ‘Hard Brexit’ on the European meat market, which also makes for grim reading.

The report has projected the likely effects on the industry in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario between the EU and UK. In such a scenario, World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs would come into play – which would hit the meat sector with an estimated average tariff rate close to 50% and exceeding 100% for some products.

Also Read: A ‘Hard Brexit’ could result in loss of 32,000 meat industry jobs

The report projects that such a scenario could ultimately lead to a reduction in the value of EU beef production by approximately €2.4 billion in the short run, and of pigmeat by over €2.3 billion, adding that a loss of at least 32,000 jobs would also be the result of a ‘no deal’ situation.