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Minister 'very concerned' about impact of EU trade deal on Irish beef farmers

The Agriculture Minister said the deal has come at a time when the beef sector in Europe is “facing significant uncertainty” because of Brexit.

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MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE Michael Creed has said he is “very concerned” about the potential impact on Irish beef farmers of a new trade deal between the European Union and South American countries.

The agreement came after two decades of often tough negotiations between the EU and the countries of the Mercosur trade bloc – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The deal had repeatedly stalled because of concerns European farmers had about the effect it would have on domestic beef markets.

The Irish Farmers’ Association yesterday said the agreement had “sold out” Irish and European farmers as it warned that cheaper beef with low tariffs would flood the EU from South America. 

Speaking after the announcement, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that while Ireland was generally supportive of international trade deals, he was “very concerned at the potential impact of elements of this particular deal on the beef sector”.

“I am very disappointed that this agreement includes a significant tariff rate quota for South American beef, at a time when the beef sector in Europe is facing significant uncertainty because of Brexit,” he said.

We have made concerted efforts over a long period of time, to minimise the EU offer in terms of beef and while evidence of these efforts appears to have been reflected in the final offer, I am, nonetheless deeply concerned at the potential impact on the Irish beef sector.

“There may be some opportunity for other agri food sectors such as dairy and for the drinks industry, but we will need to examine the text carefully to assess the full impact.”

The trade pact is the largest ever concluded by the EU and it is estimated it will save European companies more than €4 billion worth of trade duties every year, as well as create a market of about 780 million people.

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