Hogan stands firm on Mercosur as EU delists Brazilian suppliers
EUROPEAN Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan insisted there would be “no deal” on Mercosur unless negotiators are fully satisfied strong standards will apply to all produce. It comes as another round of the negotiations on Mercosur got under way in Brussels this week.
“There will be no deal on Mercosur unless we are satisfied there will be good standards and that we will have a good sanitary and phytosanitary agreement,” said Hogan, adding they needed to see “movement” on many of the demands made in recent negotiations with the South American bloc.
“There is no evidence that Brazil are serious about doing a deal at the moment because they are in election mode. So the ball is in their court.”
He pointed out anyone who does a deal on a free-trade agreement with the European Union has to observe EU standards as negotiations continued in Brussels this week.
It comes as the European Commission confirmed that Member States had voted in favour of delisting 20 Brazilian meat and poultry plants from the list of suppliers.
Mr Hogan said the delisting of the 20 establishments “clearly shows” the controls and traceability systems that the EU has in place are working.
Philip Tallon, Dawn Meats operations manager, said they remained “nervous” about Mercosur.
“What we are really talking about is 70,000t of steaks coming in,” he said.
“They are coming in to continental EU where the likes of Ireland need to sell their steaks in the summer to maximise the value to the carcase.”
The IFA’s Angus Woods said the decision to delist the 20 plants backed up calls to reject any increase in meat imports from Brazil under Mercosur.
He said the Commission is going “too easy” on Brazil.
“The only thing we have seen from Commissioner Malmström in these negotiations is giveaway after giveaway of the European meat sector, with little or nothing in return. The commissioner has already capitulated to the Brazilians in these negotiations, moving from an offer of 45,000t to 70,000t and now the Brazilians are looking for way more,” said Mr Woods.
ICMSA president Pat McCormack ( pictured) said the decision to delist the plants highlighted the “commercial and environmental absurdity” of continuing with the process.
He said the Commission was announcing that “emissions and sustainability” must become even more important in deciding CAP yet it was continuing to negotiate with a trade bloc that held “irresponsible attitudes” to the environment. With both Mr Hogan and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed shortly leading trade missions to China following the opening of the market to Irish beef, Mr Hogan said it was “very significant” as it takes effect immediately.
“If anything happened on Mercosur, it will be in 10 to 15 years’ time,” added the commissioner.
Mr Tallon said the China deal is “key”, particularly in light of Brexit, as firms were reluctant to have “all their eggs in one basket”.
“It is a small step, China is open and we need to grow that and open other markets. It is not going to be all of a sudden an answer to all our ills,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Trade Pat Breen believes the new free-trade deal struck between the EU and Mexico would benefit “agricultural exports”.
“Ireland is a significant exporter to Mexico of powdered milk and milk derivatives, the removal of tariffs should boost this trade significantly,” he said.