Under the agreement, which will replace a year 2000 trade deal, there will be duty-free trade for virtually all pork products, where customs duties now range up to 20%.
Its terms also mean that Mexico will ease import health checks on pork imports from EU slaughterhouses. Notably, inspectors will no longer have to check every slaughterhouse before clearing them to export meat products to Mexico.
EU commissioner for agriculture Phil Hogan told journalists on 23 April that the deal would help the meat sector in particular, where “trade is low at present”.
In a European Commission communiqué, Paulino Tello Cano, CEO of the Toledo, Spain-based Tello Group, said the accord would make “our high-quality pork products much more competitive on the Mexican market”. Mexico will also remove its high tariffs on “economically relevant poultry products”, where tariffs can be as high as 100%, the Commission said.
But the deal was not so generous for beef, where only limited amounts will be exported tariff-free. EU farm association secretary-general Pekka Pesonen told GlobalMeatNews that he considered Mexican beef exporters would get too much access to EU markets because of the deal: “An import quota of 10,000 tonnes for beef is 10,000 tonnes too much.”
Paolo Patruno, deputy secretary general for the EU’s Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry (Clitravi), said: “In general we are happy with the agreement, if we assume duties on processed meat will disappear.”
The agreement will also boost protection from imitation for 340 European food and drink products in Mexico, including Parma ham, Nürnberger Bratwürste (German sausage) and Szegedi szalámi (Hungarian salami).
Negotiated in under two years, the FTA will be finalised by December (2018) and then submitted to the European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers for approval.
It will maintain today’s strong meat hygiene standards, the Commission said, providing for continued certification and import checks and upholding the precautionary principle.
EU and Mexican officials also agreed to cooperate more closely to improve animal welfare standards for meat production.
In addition, the trading partners will set up a scientific best practice working group to address growing antibiotic resistance problems, particularly in animals reared for meat.
The new agreement will further introduce new rules to simplify and speed up paperwork and physical checks at Mexican customs. Mexico will treat the EU as a single entity rather than imposing separate procedures on each member state.
Also welcoming the deal, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström emphasised: “Mexico has 128 million consumers, it’s a hugely important market for the EU.”
Indeed, EU/Mexico trade has already risen 148% since the existing 2000 EU/Mexico agreement came into force. Annual food and drink exports to the EU’s second biggest Latin American trading partner currently yield €1.4 billion in receipts.
In other news, earlier this year, Mexico netted access to the US market for pork.