On 28 June, the European Commissioners for trade and agriculture announced that agreement had been reached in principle between the European Union and Mercosur countries on a free trade agreement. As I said at the time, I am disappointed by the outcome of these negotiations, which includes a 99,000 tonnes tariff rate quota, TRQ, for beef from the Mercosur countries. The agreement is now in a process of legal scrubbing and translation, following which it is likely to be provisionally applied in all areas with the exception of investment-specific areas. Formal ratification will then take place through national parliaments.
Since the publication by the Commission in 2016 of its cumulative impact assessment of future trade agreements on European Union agriculture, the United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union and a number of trade agreements have been concluded. I have therefore requested the Commission to update its 2016 study accordingly and Commissioner Phil Hogan has indicated that this will be completed in 2020. In addition, the Commission has engaged consultants to carry out a sustainability impact assessment of the Mercosur agreement. A draft interim report was published in October and the final report is expected in early 2020. These European Union assessments are being augmented at national level by the economic and sustainability assessment announced by An Taoiseach. This whole-of-government analysis of the potential effects of the agreement on Ireland is being led by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation which has overall responsibility for Irish trade policy. My Department will be part of the steering group managing this assessment.