The EU beef, lamb and poultry sectors could be seriously damaged by the bloc’s growing desire to liberalise international trade, a report by the European Commission has found.
Looking at the cumulative economic impact of 12 future trade deals on the EU agriculture sector, the report warned that the beef sector was at risk of being priced out of the market by the Mercosur trade bloc.
Reacting to the news, Martin Merrild, president of farming body Copa, warned that European beef producers could face intense pressure from tariff-free imports of South American beef.
Europe ‘underestimating’ meat sector fragility
“This study confirms our views that the EU meat sector could be hit hard by some trade deals, unless conservative tariff rate quotes on imports are imposed, especially the one being negotiated with the EU Latin American trade bloc Mercosur. We believe a potential deal with Mercosur could hit the EU agriculture sector badly, especially beef.
“Based on the methodology selected for this study, I believe the Commission is underestimating the fragile state of the EU pork and beef sectors. A deeper analysis which differentiates between carcase cuts and different qualities would be needed in order to develop the right EU meat strategy and maintain the EU’s production potential.”
European Commission agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan, however, said the study was not a forecast, but an assessment of hypothetical pressures.
“It is important to note that the conclusions of the cumulative impact study are not a forecast of the successful conclusion of these 12 trade agreements, given that they are based on a very specific set of assumptions which may or may not, in whole or in part, reflect the EU’s negotiating position for those agreements,” Hogan added.