23 NOVEMBER 2017
ICSA president Patrick Kent has lambasted the EU Commission for selling out the European beef sector in Mercosur talks at the worst possible time due to the uncertainty around markets as a result of Brexit. Speaking following a meeting with the EU chief Mercosur negotiator Sandra Gallina in Brussels yesterday, Mr Kent explained that Brexit put a huge question mark over the 270,000 tons of beef exported to the UK each year.
“It is monumental folly to allow 70,000 tons or more of extra South American beef into the EU at a time when we have no idea what the trading arrangements will be between the UK and Europe. Obviously, the importance of trade with the UK is especially significant to Ireland. However, while it may be Ireland’s problem today, it will be Europe’s problem tomorrow because any interference with free trade between Ireland and the UK could lead to some or all of our current 270,000 tons being displaced onto other EU markets.”
The ICSA president, along with ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch, were in attendance at a briefing for all sectors which are interested in Mercosur including car manufacturers, financial services and food and drink, which was hosted by Ms Gallina. While she accepted that the Irish beef sector was especially sensitive, she admitted that every effort was being made to do a deal.
“It is clear that the EU is willing to sacrifice the EU beef sector in return for potential gains for the car and financial services sector. ICSA is calling on the Taoiseach to make a further very strong intervention with the Commission president Jean Claude Juncker on behalf of the beef sector. We need to have a strong alliance with France against this deal. It is unacceptable that 100,000 livestock farmers in Ireland will pay a disproportionate price.”
ICSA also called into question the coherence of the EU on climate change when this deal will displace local beef with beef imported from thousands of miles away and which is causing destruction of rain forest in South America. “The emissions from transporting beef from the opposite side of the globe and the destruction of forests are ignored in this trade deal. Similarly, the proposals to import ethanol fly in the face of the EU position on reducing crop based ethanol in Europe. Worst of all is the fact that the EU seem to be content to ignore the appalling breaches of food safety standards that occurred in Brazil earlier this year. It is very hard to take the EU seriously when we see such double standards.”