‘Unrealistic’ for Mercosur talks to end without improved access to EU market for beef

It’s unrealistic to expect Mercosur to conclude negotiations with the EU without obtaining any improvement in their access to the EU market for beef, the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom has said.

Malmstrom confirmed that beef is not “off the menu” in the controversial trade deal in response to a written question from Independent MEP Marian Harkin.

Harkin asked the Commissioner if “beef could still be added to the trade offer at a later stage, or if beef is completely ruled out from any trade agreement with the Mercosur Countries.”

However, to reach an agreement with Mercosur will require making “market access concessions on partner countries key export interests”, Malmstrom said.

Commenting on the Commissioner’s answer, the Independent MEP said that this is very worrying for Irish beef farmers who are already experiencing an extremely difficult income crisis.

If large quantities of Brazilian or Argentinian beef were allowed to be sold in the EU it would automatically have a detrimental impact on Irish farmers and may even put many out of business.

“Irish farming organisations must react quickly to this statement and continue to pressure the Irish Minister for Agriculture and the Commission to not conclude any agreement with Mercosur if sensitive agricultural products, such as beef, are on offer.

“The Irish Government needs to consider the impact that cumulative trade deals have on Irish farmers, who increasingly have to compete with other producers that do not have to fulfil the same high regulatory standards that Irish farmers do.

“I am therefore calling on the Minister for Agriculture to confirm his position with regards this very important issue,” she said.