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·         EU-Mercosur deal divides both sides of the Atlantic

·         Protesting farmers say beef industry ‘as good as dead’



EU-Mercosur deal divides both sides of the Atlantic


By Pedro Pablo Cortés | euroefe | translated by Daniel Eck

Euractiv - July 10, 2019


Ten days ago, the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) signed a free trade agreement that will cover a market of 780 million consumers. However, diverging opinions on both sides of the Atlantic remain. EURACTIV’s partner Euroefe reports.


After 20 years of heavy negotiations and bargaining, the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement will allow European companies to save €4 billion in customs duties each year.


For European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, this is the most significant trade agreement in the EU’s history. His potential successor, Ursula von der Leyen, called it “exemplary”.


Despite the joy expressed by South American presidents and several European leaders, many sectors of activity on both sides of the Atlantic are not happy with this free trade agreement.


South Americans in favour of the EU-Mercosur deal


Brazilian coffee makers are in support of the concluded free trade agreement. The world’s largest producers and suppliers of coffee beans welcomed the agreement with the EU, the second largest consumer after the United States.


In 2018, the South American giant exported 35.2 million coffee bags weighing 60 kg each, an increase of 13.9% compared to 2017. With the agreement, this positive trend is expected to continue,  according to the Brazilian Coffee Exporters Council (Cecafé).


Brazil’s economy ministry also welcomed the agreement, thanks to which the Brazilian economy will grow by $87.5 billion in 15 years, according to the Economy Ministry. The GDP could reach $125 billion due to the reduction of trade barriers and increased productivity.


The ministry also predicts that during the same period, investments in Brazil will increase by $113 billion and Brazilian exports to the EU will generate $100 billion in revenue until 2035.


Uruguayan entrepreneurs also support the EU-Mercosur deal, not only for the stability and investment facilities it could generate but also because Uruguay will become an international business hub, according to Antonio Cárambula, the executive director of Uruguay XXI, an agency that promotes foreign investment and exports.


Also, Uruguay’s annual exports to the EU will reach $100 million, according to Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa.


South Americans opposing the EU-Mercosur deal


José Alberto Zuccardi, president of the Argentine Wine Union, criticised his government, led by Mauricio Macri, for not sufficiently consulting the wine industry and for not having conducted a technical analysis of the trade agreement’s impact on wine value chains.


This business leader noted the asymmetry between the European and Argentinian wine industry, highlighting that the EU pours €900 million into the sector each year to promote its wines. Europe’s approach to its wine industry, combined with the reduction in customs duties, could harm Argentine producers.


In a joint statement, trade unions in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay called for greater ‘transparency’ from both Mercosur states and the EU to access impact studies.


Brazil’s main trade union, the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), fears that the agreement was signed at a time when the four Mercosur countries were facing high unemployment rates, leading to deindustrialisation, job losses and job insecurity.


Europeans supporting the EU-Mercosur deal ...


Europeans opposing the EU-Mercosur deals ...





Protesting farmers say beef industry ‘as good as dead’

Farmers gather at Dáil to protest at Mercosur trade deal


Ellen O'Riordan, The Irish Times

July 10, 2019


Over a thousand farmers gathered at Leinster House on Wednesday in protest against rural Ireland austerity and the Mercosur trade deal, which is seen by many producers as the “final nail in the coffin” of the Irish beef sector.


Many farmers said they would not take the deal lying down, warning that politicians who don’t listen will pay the price at the next general election.


The Beef Plan Movement, the farmers’ voluntary group behind the event, instructed protesters to bring wellies to leave behind outside the Dáil, to symbolise the death knell of their industry.


A trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, which was 20 years in the making, will see 99,000 tonnes of South American beef allowed into the European market each year.


Beef Plan’s vice chairman, Hugh Doyle, railed against the hypocrisy of the European Union, in which bovine-meat- already attacked for its high emissions- will be flown across continents and with fears the deal will lead to increased deforestation in the Rainforest.


Referencing the environmental broadcaster David Attenborough, he asked how a deal could be struck where money trumped the environment. Mr Doyle said the Government should be “harnessing” what agriculture can do for the environment, and farmers would welcome advancements like methane-to-fuel conversion.


Speaking to The Irish Times, he said the beef industry was being used as a “sacrificial lamb” and the Government should be up-front about this.


“We are very angry because decisions are being taken without our input. At the end of the day, we have nothing to lose here because our industry is as good as dead.”


While retailers and processors have raked in handsome profits, beef producers have suffered years of squeezed profit margins, Mr Doyle said. If farmers cannot make ends meet, rural parts of the country will be hollowed into extinction, he added...


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