While the U.S. and Europe continue to dance around issues in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the European Union also seeing to advance trade talks with South America as well.
European ag groups aren't too thrilled with the prospects.
The EU will hold a new round of talks with South American countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, which are collectively called the Mercosur countries. These talks have been off and on since they first began in 2010.
The EU's largest farmer group, Copa-Cogeca, wrote European agricultural ministers this week asking them to reject a proposal by the European Commission for agricultural access with the Latin American countries. Copa-Cogeca claims that such a trade pact would have a "catastrophic effect on the EU agriculture sector, especially beef."
Copa-Cogeca cited that EU farmer are already challenged by low prices and high input costs. Additionally, the Mercosur countries already enjoy pretty good access to the EU. Copa-Cogeca states Mercosur countries account for 86% of EU beef imports and 70% of poultry imports. "They therefore do not need extra quotas tariff free to increase their trade to the EU especially since little of our beef is let into their countries," Copa-Cogeca's secretary general, Pekka Pesonen said. Furthermore, these imports do not meet the EU’s high environmental and quality standards and there are still concerns about safety aspects of meat production in these countries such as traceability”
Irish beef producers also apparently oppose the deal. The Irish agriculture minister wrote the EU's top trade commissioner asking her not to continue the talks. The Irish Farmers' Association raised some of the same complaints the EU has had about U.S. cattle: problems with traceability and the use of growth hormones in South American cattle.
Last month, the EU announced changes in its farm programs for the 28-country bloc to boost support for Europe's pork and dairy sectors.
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