European farmers’ organizations claimed on Thursday that current trade talks between the EU and Mercosur could lead to a “total collapse” of the EU beef sector.
Copa-Cogeca which represent European farmers and European Agri-cooperatives also indicated Mercosur countries fail to meet EU high standards.
The farmers’ lobby move comes just before both sides are due to meet for negotiations in mid-March.
In a letter sent to EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, Copa President Padraig Walshe and Cogeca President Paolo Bruni warned “if trade is fully liberalised between the two sides, it is estimated to result in losses to the EU beef sector of as much as 25 billion Euros. A deal would also increase price volatility and cause a huge rise in pork, poultry, maize imports to the EU from these countries”.
The farmers lobby argues that Mercosur is producing the same agriculture goods that the EU produces and Mercosur is already a major exporter of agriculture and food products to the EU, with more than 90% of our imports of beef meat coming from Mercosur.
“With further liberalisation of trade with Mercosur, we will become more dependent on imports and the EU food security will be increasingly affected by climatic conditions or political decisions on agriculture from these countries”, point out the EU farmers.
Copa-Cogeca warned that the study, on which they based their presentation, estimates that the economic losses would go beyond the CAP framework and would encourage the outsourcing of production for many products.
On top of this, an agreement “would double the level of carbon dioxide emissions, which runs counter to the EU commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and would make it difficult for the EU to meets its reduction targets”.
EU farmers insist there are also still concerns about safety aspects of meat production in Mercosur countries such as traceability and the use of hormones in meat production.
“Copa-Cogeca therefore vehemently opposes any new concessions to non-EU countries. After all, a vibrant EU agri-food sector should not sell itself to non-EU countries. The EU agri-food sector makes a crucial contribution to the EU 2020 strategy for growth and employment, at the same time as providing food security” concludes the report.
Mercosur, which is a leading world meats exporter, is expecting EU to facilitate access to its market for agriculture and livestock produce in exchange for concessions in manufacturing goods, services and government procurement, among other fields.
The study used by Copa-Cogeca examines beef import prices and volumes from Brazil to the three main EU markets: UK, Germany and Italy.
Beef industry sources in Uruguay said it was only natural that EU farmers should begin to lobby against Mercosur imports. However they also emphasised that EU delegates repeatedly said that three is ‘willingness’ on both sides and that ‘this is the moment to advance’ on the long standing (and delayed) trade agreement.