EU meat industry voices concern over CETA

By Liz Newmark, in Brussels and Mandy Kovacs, in Ottawa

- Last updated on GMT

Donald Tusk (left) president of the European Council was a key player in the CETA deal
Donald Tusk (left) president of the European Council was a key player in the CETA deal

Related tags: Meat, International trade, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry

The CETA deal, whose legal texts were finally signed on 30 October, will be “a painful exercise” for the EU meat sector, Copa-Cogeca secretary general Pekka Pesonen has warned.

He told GlobalMeatNews​ today (31 October): “The TRQs [tariff-reduced quotas] in beef and pig meat given to Canada are quite substantial. We have no doubt that the Canadian meat industry will use them.

However, we welcome that some important EU production standards have been recognised, in particular the ‘hormone-free beef’ and ‘ractopamine-free pig meat’ as a precondition to enter the EU market.​”
 
European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV) secretary general Jean-Luc Mériaux​ was pleased: “CETA confirmed the sensitive product status for EU beef and pork. Canadian beef and pork won’t have free EU access, but will be managed through import licences.​”

‘Huge impact’ on economy

The UECBV and Copa-Cogeca also told GlobalMeatNews​ CETA (Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement​) would not undermine EU standards on genetically modified organisms, hormones or food safety.

Pesonen added that to avoid “market disequilibrium​” from CETA, the EU should clearly specify temporary duty safeguards, particularly for high-value beef cuts, where relatively small import increases would have “a huge impact on beef producers’ economy​”.

Meanwhile, Mériaux added: “CETA will remove Canadian import tariffs on EU beef (26.5%) and pork meat exports, beef and pork TRQs will be duty free, so there will be a real prospect of growing business with Canada. Over the years, the EU has developed pig meat exports and now there will be potential to develop EU beef (including veal) exports.​”

Canadian support for CETA

For the UECBV, with TRQ protection, market disequilibrium was “highly unlikely​”, he added.

The Canadian meat industry​ has welcomed the deal’s signing. “We’ve been champions of CETA since it first began. We wanted to get access to one of the highest-value beef markets in the world,​” said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “With duty-free access, we think the market could potentially be worth approximately [Canadian dollars] CA$600 million [US$447m] per year for the Canadian meat industry, so we want to see access open up,​” he said.

Ron Davidson, director of international trade, government and media relations at the Canadian Meat Council, added: “We support CETA, provided it will be possible to take advantage of the import quotas that were envisaged by the negotiators and contained in the text. We are not there yet, however, as we are still involved in technical negotiations regarding microbial treatments and the equivalence of our meat inspection systems,​” he explained.

He explained that while both parties will have duty-free and quota-free access, the Canadian side may not be able to take advantage of it if these technical issues are not resolved. The Canadian system uses four antimicrobial treatments to process meat and prevent diseases: lactic acid, recycled hot water, citric acid and peroxidic acid. The EU has approved the first two, but not the others, which causes problems on the Canadian end, says Masswohl. “We’re just asking them to approve these for meat production and, if they do, then we will be able to make good use of those quotas and realise our potential,​” Masswohl said.

Related topics: Meat

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