Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (175)

Bernard Durkan


175. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied that Irish and European food producers are not likely to suffer any disadvantage in the context of WTO negotiations or EU-US trade discussions in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14435/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As a small trading nation, we depend on trade to drive our economy and have much to gain from free trade agreements. In that respect we have substantial offensive interests in the agreements being negotiated with the United States and also with Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Of course we have defensive interests too – related primarily to our beef sector. Our strategy is to push hard for agreements that balance these offensive interests with our defensive ones. These principles apply equally across the EU and within the EU Commission, which negotiates on behalf of Member States.

On TTIP Ireland is pressing hard to secure substantial access for our dairy products to the US and to eliminate the technical barriers that hinder that trade. We are also pushing for better access for our pork, cereals and beverages sectors.

On beef, we will continue to argue, as we have been doing, that any beef quotas awarded to the US must be limited in size and must take into account the segmentation of the EU market between high value cuts and other beef.

As to the WTO, at the Ministerial Conference in Bali last December, Ministers mandated the negotiating committee to prepare a clearly defined work program on the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues. Although expectations are not high, the EU may come under pressure to agree a further mini-package that could include more far-reaching commitments on export subsidies. My view is that we should seek a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious outcome across all elements of DDA negotiations. We are, of course, prepared to engage actively in the post Bali work programme.