On 28th June, the EU concluded negotiations for an Association Agreement with Mercosur countries after nearly 20 years and 40 rounds of talks. This marks the EU’s largest trade deal to date and is four times the size of the trade agreement with Japan.
Irish exporters have been subject to trade tariffs, barriers and restrictions when exporting to Mercosur. This Agreement will see a significant reduction, or elimination, of tariffs and barriers to trade which will allow an increased flow of trade and investment between Ireland, the EU and the Mercosur region. The EU-Mercosur Agreement should make exports from Ireland more attractive, and potentially increase the demand for Irish products and the employment that supports.
The Agreement with Mercosur presents sectorial opportunities for Ireland in areas such as software and services in telecoms, financial services, digital content and travel, engineering products and services, life sciences, food and beverages, and education services.
The EU-Mercosur Association Agreement includes a detailed chapter on Sustainable Development goals and recognises the need to address the urgent threat of climate change and the role trade has in support our climate and environmental goals, as well as underscoring the importance of both Parties implementing provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement. The Agreement reinforces commitments made by Mercosur countries in relation to the Paris Climate Agreement and provides the EU with clear monitoring and oversight of those commitments, providing leverage to ensure that the environmental protections that Mercosur countries are committed to are fully realized through this trade agreement.
Following widespread fires in the Amazon rainforest in August, An Taoiseach made clear the Government's concern over the levels of destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. In that regard, I agree that we must closely monitor Brazil’s environmental actions in the coming years, in the context of their commitments in the EU-Mercosur Agreement, and before that Agreement comes before the European Council for a vote.
For our part, following the conclusion of negotiations for the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, the Government committed to undertake full economic and environmental sustainability assessments of the political agreement. My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is actively pursuing the commissioning of these studies.
These assessments will consider the impact the Agreement will have on the Irish economy and on jobs, as well as the environmental implications of the deal. These assessments will help to inform our future position in relation to the EU-Mercosur Agreement.