With EU Commission officials in Montevideo in Uruguay this week to reconvene the Mercosur trade talks, IFA President Joe Healy said the time has come for EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan put his foot down and tell Trade Commissioner Malmstrom enough is enough.
Joe Healy said, “With major uncertainty over Brexit and only contempt being shown by Brazil in their failure to meet EU standards on imports, the time has come for Commission Hogan to shout stop on Mercosur”.
Joe Healy said EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan must deliver on their commitment to put Ireland first in Brexit and ensure that there is no Mercosur deal on beef while Brexit remains unsorted.
The IFA President said the Mercosur negotiations lack credibility and are taking place against a background where there are major political scandals and unrest in Brazil and economic meltdown in Argentina. He said these are the big two Mercosur member states the EU are relying on to pull off a deal. “Elections are set to take place in Brazil in October against a background of massive political corruption, deep economic recession and rising unrest”.
The IFA President said the economic collapse in Argentina has seen the currency devalue in the last 12 months from 20.25 ARS to the €uro down to 44.98 ARS last week. This is a devaluation of 125% and shows how ludicrous it would be for the EU to agree to any type of a trade deal with such an unstable economy. He said with this type of devaluation Argentina could flood the EU with cheap substandard beef and other agricultural products. In addition he said the Brazilian real (BRL) has devalued by 33% from 3.68 to 4.90 against the €uro in the last year and the Uruguayan Peso (UYU) has devalued by 12% from 33.80 to 37.80 to the €uro.
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said, “In view of the lack of progress on Brexit and our critical dependence on the UK market for beef exports, the EU cannot agree to increased beef imports from Mercosur.”
Angus Woods said removing the UK market in Brexit will leave the EU beef market 116% self-sufficient. “Increasing EU beef imports makes no sense whatsoever and the EU Commission should instruct Commissioner Malmstrom to withdraw beef from the Mercosur negotiations,” he said.
Angus Woods said Irish and EU beef farmers are also very concerned over reports of the EU Commission allocating more of the existing hormone free beef quota to the US. He said the question has to be asked what political promises are being made to other countries such as the Mercosur block or Australia for an increase in their quotas to accommodate this move with the US.