EU-Mercosur deal boosts Brazil meatpackers' hopes for EU meat mission


Ana Mano, Reuters 

July 4, 2019


SAO PAULO (Reuters) - An historic trade deal between the European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur last week is lifting expectations for Europe’s next mission to evaluate Brazilian chicken plants, an industry group said on Thursday.


Ricardo Santin, vice president of Brazil chicken and pork association ABPA, said in a telephone interview that the EU mission, tentatively scheduled for November, is part of a regular schedule of facility inspections.


The mission will look into what Santin called corrective measures to improve Brazilian inspections after the Europeans banned imports from 20 plants due to issues detected in 2018.


He said the measures, presented by Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias to European officials recently, include cutting state inspectors out of key decisions to create “a more vertical” process free of political interference.


“It is early to say if Europe will suspend the embargo on the plants,” Santin said. But he said that was a clear possibility after last week’s accord, which shows Europe’s “recognition of the seriousness of Mercosur institutions.”


Regarding the breakthrough trade deal after two decades of negotiations, Santin pointed to technical details that still need to be worked out.


For example, the deal would allow 180,000 tonnes of duty-free carcass weight equivalent (CWE) of poultry exports from Mercosur. However, the CWE criteria, typically used for cuts including bones, makes little sense for boneless cuts, according to Santin, who suggested the current terms should be tweaked.


The EU has agreed to reduce barriers on 82% of agricultural imports from Mercosur over a transition period. Each country in the two trade blocs must approve the terms of the treaty before full implementation.


Santin said the agreement boost...