Last week the European Commission (EC) was blasted by EU farming body Copa-Cogeca over negotiations with Mercosur that would see Latin American beef exporters pay significantly reduced trade tariffs.
Copa-Cogeca claimed this would have a “catastrophic impact” on beef, as Latin America could pump Europe full of cheap beef, driving domestic producers out of business.
The EC did not initially respond to requests from this site to comment on the criticism it had endured. After several days of silence, a spokesman from the European Commission told GlobalMeatNews that it was “taking full account” of the concerns raised by the beef industry.
“There are sensitivities in the EU on a number of agricultural sectors,” a spokesman said. “This is why the European Commission has proposed – and Mercosur has accepted – that certain agricultural products will not be fully liberalised.”
Economic incentives stressed
What this means is that certain South American-based agricultural imports, in this case beef, will not see trade tariffs reduced entirely as had previously been planned.
The spokesman also said the EC, which is the executive body of the European Union, understood that importing large volumes of beef from outside Europe could hurt domestic producers.
“The Commission therefore is taking full account of the limits of the capacity of the beef market to additional imports of meat. In the elaboration of the draft EU offer to Mercosur, the Commission has taken into due consideration all relevant elements, such as the evolution of the EU market for beef, the limited capacity of the segment of high-value cuts, of imports into the EU of meat originating in Mercosur countries, of prices, of demand, of costs of production, etc.
“However, it should also be remembered that the EU has offensive interests on a number of agricultural sectors in Mercosur markets.
“We are confident that we are able to arrive at an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive negotiating outcome that takes due account of both offensive and defensive interests and is of great economic benefit to both sides.”