TTIP negotiations effectively on hold until November

The ongoing TTIP negotiations will not move forward, in any meaningful way, until an assessment report from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture has been published.

The report will examine the potential impact of all of Europe’s current trade agreement commitments. This is according to the IFA’s representative in Brussels Liam McHale.

“This is irrespective of what happens politically in the United States over the coming month or so,” he said.

“The report, currently being compiled by Phil Hogan’s team, should be ready in November, at which stage it will be analysed widely at an EU level.”

McHale also confirmed that the IFA supports the general principles enshrined within the TTIP trade agreement.

But there are a number of sensitive issues that have a direct bearing on Irish agriculture, potential beef imports being one of them.

“However, a trade deal with the US should provide significant export opportunities for Ireland’s dairy sector,” he said.

But above and beyond the actual broad agreements that might be reached, McHale warned of the devil being in the detail, where a potential trade deal is concerned.

“For example, we need to ensure that the sanitary and phytosanitary criteria embedded within any eventual deal meets the full requirements of Irish food exporters,” he said.

McHale admitted that a new political regime in the United States could, in theory, delay the entire TTIP negotiating process.

Both the Trump and Clinton camps have their own specific reservations with regard to the directions which the current negotiations are moving in.

“But it’s too early to say if these reservations would be sufficiently strong so as to undermine the entire negotiating platform that has been established up to this point,” he said.

Turning to the recently agreed CETA trade agreement, involving Europe and Canada, McHale said that the treaty must be ratified by the European Commission, the European Parliament and each European Member State before the end of this year.

“Assuming all of this takes place, according to the schedule laid down, the Canadian market will be opened up to a number of Irish food imports from January 1 next,” he said.

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