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Statement by Minister Humphreys & Minister Creed on EU Mercosur Trade Agreement

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Minister Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD, have commented on this evening’s announcement that political agreement has been reached on a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur countries.  

Speaking after the announcement, Minister Creed said that while as a small open economy, Ireland was generally supportive of international trade deals, he was very concerned at the potential impact of elements of this particular deal on the beef sector:  

I am very disappointed that this agreement includes a significant Tariff Rate Quota for South American beef, at a time when the beef sector in Europe is facing significant uncertainty because of Brexit.  We have made concerted efforts over a long period of time, to minimise the EU offer in terms of beef and while evidence of these efforts appears to have been reflected in the final offer, I am, nonetheless deeply concerned at the potential impact on the Irish beef sector.  There may be some opportunity for other agri food sectors such as dairy and for the drinks industry, but we will need to examine the text carefully to assess the full impact.

Minister Humphreys said:

I note the outcome of the agreement reached this evening. It will take some years before this agreement comes into effect. It will be put through a process of legal scrubbing, which could take up to two years, before being put before the European Trade Council for ratification by Qualified Majority Vote, and the European Parliament. After that, the agreement will be brought in on a phased basis over 6 years.

Significant efforts were made by Ireland, together with colleagues in other member states, to mitigate the impact of this deal on European agriculture. The beef tariff rate quota of 99,000 tonnes agreed is considerably less than has been sought by the Mercosur countries, who at one point were demanding a quota of 300,000 tonnes.  The deal will now go through legal refinement, which could take up to two years, before the process of ratification by the European Trade Council, the European Parliament and ultimately Member States begins.