Following the conclusion of the headline political agreement of 28 June in the EU/Mercosur trade negotiations, the Deputy will be aware that An Taoiseach has requested the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to commission a full economic and sustainability assessment to measure its impact. My Department will assist in that exercise regarding the agricultural aspects.
While as a small, open economy, Ireland is supportive of international trade deals, I am very concerned at the potential impact of elements of this deal on the beef sector in particular.
Ireland, worked closely with other Member State colleagues and engaged directly with the European Commission, throughout the negotiations and consistently called for the cumulative effect of successive Free Trade Agreements to be taken into account in these negotiations. Therefore, it is a matter of great disappointment and considerable concern for Ireland that a beef TRQ of 99,000 tonnes has been included in the agreement. While it will be phased-in over a period of six years, it is still likely to have a significant negative impact on an EU beef market that is delicately balanced and operating against the backdrop and challenges of Brexit.
The legal scrubbing process will now commence which may take up to two years to conclude. Ireland will spare no effort during this process to ensure that the proposed safeguard mechanism, product segmentation, the management of TRQs through import licenses, the insistence that all Mercosur imports into the EU fully satisfy EU food safety and animal health requirements, and the commitments in relation to environmental sustainability, climate change and deforestation are set out in as much detail as possible, and in a way that maximises the protection afforded to the European agriculture sector.