A SCOTTISH MEP yesterday called for trade talks between the EU and Mercosur to be suspended until the South American countries sorted out their internal problems.
George Lyon made the call, which could have significant consequences for Scottish farmers following the news that the trade deal talks were likely to be delayed after the Mercosur bloc reached agreement over Venezuela’s accession and following the suspension of Paraguay.
These developments come just months after Argentina unilaterally raised tariffs on EU exports, tried to block all UK imports and nationalised the YPF oil company which is 50 per cent owned by the Spanish company Repsol.
“The changes to the makeup of the Mercosur bloc come at a time when trade talks with the EU are already in turmoil, following Argentina’s recent behaviour and their unofficial ban upon imports of UK manufactured goods,” Lyon said.
He claimed the proposed trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur countries was looking shakier every day.
He reminded Scottish farmers that the European farmer organisation Copa-Cogeca had put the cost of a deal on the EU agriculture sector at €13 billion (£10bn). The beef industry in particular would be badly hit, with an estimated loss of around €3bn in value terms through opening European markets to South American beef.
“It would make much more sense for the European Commission to suspend negotiations and give the Mercosur member countries the opportunity to sort out their internal problems,” the MEP added.
Lyon’s comments were echoed by English NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe who said: “The UK is a significant EU beef producer and the NFU still has real concerns that a deal with Mercosur would jeopardise our domestic beef industry by allowing cheap product, produced to lower standards, on to the European market.
“Any delay in these negotiations is to be welcomed.”
With the latest reports indicating that the UK was now importing more beef this year, Sercombe added: “In the meantime we must make moves to put our domestic beef industry on a sustainable footing to capitalise on emerging world markets and meet the demands of the UK consumer.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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