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Trade Agreements

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 14 May 2015

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ceisteanna (31)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

31. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he remains satisfied that Ireland’s food industry will not suffer in any way, in the context of trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States of America, with particular reference to the need to avoid any trade-off by reducing agricultural output in favour of other sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18646/15]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I am satisfied that a trade agreement between the EU and the US will be good for the EU and good for Ireland. We have significant offensive interests in relation to the agrifood sector. We are keen to increase our access to the American market for dairy products, pig-meat, beverages and food ingredients. Now that we have gained access to the US beef market, we want to grow that trade by securing higher quotas and lower tariffs. A TTIP agreement has the potential to facilitate all of this through the reduction of import tariffs and the removal of trade barriers.

Of course we have defensive interests as well. One of these is our beef sector where we are mindful of the potential of increased imports of US beef to have a negative effect on the economics of EU and Irish beef production, particularly beef from suckler cows. We must ensure that the EU market is not undermined by over-supply and our proposals to mitigate the impact of quotas and tariff cuts are well known to the Commission. These defensive interests should be seen in the light of the current high US beef prices which at least temporarily reduce the US competitive advantage, and the recent opening of the US market to Irish beef, with the favourable prospects for capitalising on this through TTIP by further reductions in beef tariffs and the opening of a quota for the EU.

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