ICSA has expressed concerns that the beef sector will be hung out to dry in a possible TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) deal. According to ICSA president Patrick Kent, alarm bells are ringing and the Irish Government needs to take a much harder and more proactive line to defend the interests of Irish beef farming. ICSA attended a meeting in Brussels last week, under the patronage of Paolo De Castro, MEP and organised by Farm Europe – a Brussels based think-thank – on the TTIP.
The meeting which was held in the European Parliament in Brussels was briefed by Paolo De Castro who is one of the most prominent members of the EU parliament agriculture committee, as well as former senior DG agri official Joao Pacheco, who is currently Senior Fellow at Farm Europe.
ICSA put forward the view that the beef sector is the loser in all of the trade deals, and it is the potential cumulative impact of several trade deals that spells real peril for Irish beef. Apart from TTIP, which proposes a trade deal between the EU and the US, there is also a deal with Canada (CETA) and news is emerging of the opening of trade talks with Australia. In addition, the potential for a deal with the Mercosur (South American countries) cannot be excluded.
ICSA president Patrick Kent said that all of these deals have the potential to flood the EU market with lots of extra beef imports from countries with lower standards. “The risk of conceding huge extra quotas of tariff free beef cannot be under-estimated. As Ireland is the major beef exporter in Europe, we stand to lose much more than any other EU state.”
“We are particularly concerned that other member states are putting all their negotiating influence into geographic indications which are not relevant to the Irish beef sector. The risk is that such concerns are given priority in a TTIP deal at the expense of defending the beef sector adequately.”
ICSA is calling on the Irish Government to look for guarantees that no beef will be allowed access to Europe which is produced at a lower standard and that the volume of beef covered by tariff rate quotas (i.e. not paying the normal import tariff) is minimised to reflect the fact that the EU beef market does not have any surplus demand for beef.