ICSA president warns EU pact with South American states will imperil Irish beef industry

Pressure on Bruton to oppose deal

Sligo News File Online

The president of the ICSA Patrick Kent has called on Trade Minister Richard Bruton to issue a statement on how he intends to protect the Irish beef industry in the light of what he has described as a threatening trade deal the EU is negotiating with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.
Patrick Kent, President, Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association.

According to the ICSA leader, who held discussions with Commission officials in Brussels last week, there is a renewed drive at EU level to finalise a deal with the four South American countries, which make up the Mercosur block.

Warning that such pact would open EU markets to greater quantities of lower price South American beef, Mr. Kent said any agreement that lowered or eliminated tariffs on South American imports “will undermine the price of Irish exports to the UK and continental Europe.”

He said. “The beef sector is barely hanging in there in terms of profitability. It is hard to see what Ireland can gain out of a deal with the Mercosur block but it is abundantly clear that beef will lose.”

“Minister Bruton, in his role as Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation has responsibility for trade. He needs to push the importance of beef to the Irish economy with the EU trade commissioner, Cecelia Malmstrom and insist that Ireland will not accept a bad deal on beef.”

Demanding the Minister make an immediate strong statement outlining the position of the Government on the situation, Mr. Kent said, “there is no time for prevarication as our information is that there is a drive on to get a deal wrapped up before the end of the year,”