TRADE DEAL WITH MERCOSUR COUNTRIES FOR FOOD AND FEED IN THE UE

Copa-Cogeca warns against a trade deal with Mercosur countries in public hearing, claiming it will increase the EU´s already heavy dependence on them for food and feed.

Copa-Cogeca warned against further liberalising agriculture trade with the Latin American Trade Bloc Mercosur at a public hearing today. Mercosur has already seen phenomenal growth in its agricultural exports, with its trade surplus increasing fivefold since 2000, and the EU is its main market. Further trade liberalisation will increase our dependence on Mercosur for food at the expense of EU farmers and will cause severe environmental damage and deforestation.

Speaking at the hearing held in European Parliaments’ Trade Committee, Chief Policy Advisor Shelby Matthews said “One quarter of our food imports already come from Mercosur and we depend on them for two-thirds of our protein feed requirements. Negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement with Mercosur would cause a huge rise in beef, pork, poultry, maize, garlic, sugar, ethanol, citrus fruit/juice imports to the EU from these countries, which would have a catastrophic impact on the EU agricultural sector and the economy and employment in rural areas. For example, it would wipe out grass-based beef production in Europe which is of particularly high nature value. Based on previous offers to Mercosur, Copa-Cogeca estimates that losses in the agricultural sector would far outweigh gains in other sectors. Offering very competitive Mercosur countries additional market access to the EU market would also send another very negative signal to the least developed and ACP countries”.  “Moreover, a study carried out by the Joint Research Centre on behalf of the EU Commission reveals that beef production in Brazil results in twice the quantity of green house gas emissions produced by EU beef production and four times as much if account is taken of the destruction of forests which has taken place to make way for beef production. Existing imports of beef from Brazil alone represents 3% of all EU agricultural emissions. Any increase in beef imports would make it that much more difficult to achieves the EU’s reduction objectives or global reductions”, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stressed.

There will be two more rounds in the trade negotiations on May 2-6 and July 4-8. Indications show offers could be exchanged on May 2-6. But Copa-Cogeca strongly opposes the move.

Source: Copa-Cogeca press release on 13/04/2011

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