‘Mercosur will significantly reduce barriers to trade’ – Humphreys

The Government committed to undertake full economic and environmental sustainability assessments of the Mercosur agreement. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is actively pursuing the commissioning of these studies.

The assessments will consider the impact the agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs – as well as the environmental implications of the deal.

These assessments will help to inform Ireland’s future position in relation to the EU-Mercosur agreement.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, during Dáil proceedings earlier this week when she was asked by Fianna Fáil deputy Michael Moynihan if she would expand on comments made about the future vote on the Mercosur agreement, and its impact on the Amazon and climate commitments in Brazil.

The largest deal

Minister Humphreys, meanwhile, went on to say that on June 28 last, the EU concluded negotiations for an association agreement with Mercosur countries after nearly 20 years – and 40 rounds of talks.

This, she added, marks the EU’s largest trade deal to date and is four times the size of the trade agreement with Japan.

Irish exporters have been subject to trade tariffs, barriers and restrictions when exporting to Mercosur countries.

She continued: “This agreement will see a significant reduction, or elimination, of tariffs and barriers to trade which will allow an increased flow of trade and investment between Ireland, the EU and the Mercosur region.

“The EU-Mercosur agreement should make exports from Ireland more attractive, and potentially increase the demand for Irish products and the employment that supports.”

‘Creating opportunities’

Humphreys went on to say the agreement presented “sectorial opportunities” for Ireland in areas including software and services in telecoms; financial services; digital content and travel; engineering products and services; life sciences; food and beverages; and education services.

Mercosur includes a detailed chapter on sustainable development goals.

She continued: “It also recognises the need to address the urgent threat of climate change and the role trade has in supporting our climate and environmental goals.

“It also underscores the importance of both parties implementing provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Reinforcing commitment

The minister then pointed to how the agreement reinforces commitments made by Mercosur countries in relation to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“It provides the EU with clear monitoring and oversight of those commitments, providing leverage to ensure that the environmental protections that Mercosur countries are committed to are fully realised through this trade agreement,” she said.

Following widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest in August, the Taoiseach made clear the Government’s concern over the levels of destruction of the rainforest.

“In that regard, I agree that we must closely monitor Brazil’s environmental actions in the coming years, in the context of their commitments in the EU-Mercosur agreement, and prior to that agreement coming before the European Council for a vote.”