IFA President Eddie Downey has said the Irish Government must take a strong role and defend the interests of agriculture in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Speaking in Dublin at the launch of the IFA position paper on the TTIP negotiations, Eddie Downey said, “Ireland has very strong links, both economically and culturally, with the US. While recognising the potential opportunities from increased access to the US market, the Government cannot countenance a trade deal that would damage farmers and Irish agricultural exports on the EU market”.
Mr Downey said, “Following recent meetings with key US stakeholders in Washington, it is clear that the US has ambitions for major agricultural exports into the EU market”.
He continued, “The agri-food sector is critically important to the Irish economic recovery, with 300,000 jobs dependent on and linked to agriculture across all parishes and towns of Ireland and agri-food exports of €10.5bn in 2014. IFA will fight to ensure that the interests of European and Irish agriculture are not sacrificed in the TTIP negotiations in pursuit of an overall trade deal.”
Mr Downey said, “As a fundamental principle, EU negotiators must insist on equivalence of standards. That is, all US imports must meet the same animal health, welfare, traceability and environmental standards as is required of EU producers”.
Key messages for negotiators include:
- The EU must not reach a trade agreement with the US which runs counter to EU climate change objectives, by facilitating the replacement of carbon efficient Irish produce on the EU market with carbon intensive US imports.
- EU beef and pigmeat must be designated as sensitive products, with access granted under Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) on a fair basis, reflecting the ‘natural fall’ of cuts.
- Reduced tariffs must be retained on all EU beef imports under any agreed TRQ
- The cumulative impact on the EU market of all bilateral trade agreements must be taken into account in the market access negotiations with the US.
- With significant market access opportunities for high-quality Irish dairy products, there must be acceptance of equivalence on dairy hygiene standards between the EU and US systems to remove a significant barrier to entry to the US market.
- US recognition of Protected Geographical Indicators (PGIs) for certain EU food and drink products cannot be at the expense of other market access opportunities. This is particularly relevant to the Irish dairy sector.
- With potential market opportunities for Irish sheep meat exports to the US, it is vitally important that the access restrictions and difficulties associated with TSEs are removed.
- Pigmeat products permitted for import into the EU must meet equivalent animal welfare standards.
Mr Downey concluded, “Over the coming months, IFA will be intensifying its engagement with key stakeholders in the Oireachtas, European Parliament and European Commission to ensure that the principles outlined in this document are adopted by EU negotiators. I will also be engaging with the wider agri-food industry and with farming organisations across Europe to ensure support for IFA’s position on key issues”.