Issues over product protection stall Mercosur trade deal talks

Progress on the agriculture portion of trade deals with Mercosur and Australia has been slow but, talks with New Zealand are progressing more rapidly.


Barry Cassidy, Irish Farmers Journal (Ireland)

09 Apr 2019


An unwillingness from the South American trading bloc Mercosur to make credible offers on protections for geographical indicators (GI) has stalled trade negotiations with the EU.


John Clarke, European Commission director of international relations at DG Agri, has said agreement over GI protection was one of the last remaining obstacles to an agreement. Offers in sectors of European interest such as dairy, wine and olive oil are also yet to be made.


Names like Rioja wine and Gorgonzola cheese have special status in the EU but are contested in some Mercosur countries.


Clarke said while the new Brazilian government was more constructive than the previous one, it is still hard to say when a deal might be struck.


Australia and New Zealand


As part of an update provided to MEPs on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, Clarke outlined progress in negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.


Similar to Mercosur, Australia is yet to move on its opposition to GI protection. No offers have been made on market access yet, but Clarke reassured MEPs that the Commission remained aware of sensitivities surrounding the beef and sheep sectors.


New Zealand is a more nimble partner, according to Clarke, and first market access offers were exchanged a number of weeks ago. However, no offers were made on the sensitive sectors of beef, dairy and sheep which will only be considered at the end of the negotiations.


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