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Mixed reaction in Ireland to EU-Canada deal

The Jobs Minister says it is good news for exports, but farmers warn that a free-trade agreement between the EU and Canada might not necessarily be good news.

Image: Yves Logghe/AP/Press Association Images

A NEW MULTI-billion euro free trade agreement between the EU and Canada has divided opinion in Ireland.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso signed off on the deal this afternoon, with Barroso saying that it could increase trade between the two partners by €26 billion.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton today said that the move was good news for Ireland.

“This agreement with Canada is really good news for our exporters. New markets will be opened in Canada and tariffs on nearly all of our exports there will be removed. The deal is good news for the economy and nearly every business sector in Ireland will benefit,” he said.

Ireland’s trade with Canada is currently €2.7 billion and has doubled since 206.

However, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) sounded a warning about the deal, saying that it could mean more pain than gain for farmers.

The ICSA’s beef chairman, Edmond Phelan, said the negatives could outweigh the positives for Irish beef farmers, because the deal allows for up to 40,000 tonnes of Canadian beef and 70,000 tonnes of Canadian pork into EU markets.

I am concerned that imports of cheaper Canadian meat have the potential to undermine the price of Irish beef in key export markets within the EU. While there may be some upside in terms of exports, the likelihood is that there will be more pain than gain for Irish farmers.

Dublin MEP Paul Murphy was also critical of parts of the deal.

“Environmentalists, trade unionists, indigenous community activists and others in Canada and Europe are rightly deeply sceptical to this trade agreement. Like all free trade negotiations conducted by the European Commission, the CETA negotiations have been held in secret and have been driven by Canadian and European multinationals and agribusiness that want market access and access to vital public services so they can profit at the expense of working people.”

Read: Coveney opposes EU plans on mackerel quotas

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