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Why pig sector needs to be wary of Mercosur deal

3rd Jul 2019 / By Alistair Driver

While the main headlines concern beef, the Mercosur agreement, could have implications for the UK pig sector, according to the NPA's Ed Barker. 

Under the agreement reached at the end of last week between the EU and the collection of South American countries, the EU will accept 99,000 tonnes of beef from South America per annum, including, it is estimated, 44,000t from Brazil and 33,000t from Argentina.

The EU will also accept 180,000t of poultry and 25,000t of pork, although it is specified that this must be from ractopamine-free pigs that and there will be an in quota duty of 83 EUR/t.

Sources suggest pork was ‘not a priority’ for the Mercosur countries, as they don’t tend to export much product to the EU, according to the NFU.

The Mercosur side also agreed to the full liberalisation of European pork exports, which already sends 20 000t to the region, the NFU’s briefing added.

Ed said: “The key concerns behind the deal will be in the beef and poultry sectors. However we should still note the large allocated tonnage of pork to the EU.

“Although the EU have rightly stated any imports have to be ractopamine free, we have to recognise that a number of pig management practices still take place there, which are not permitted in the UK.

“Given the UK’s future departure from the EU, we have to be wary that these countries will want to export to the UK but with less stringent standards and conditions. We must not assume our work is done for the UK pig sector.”

Copa and Cogeca, the umbrella organisation for EU farming bodies, said it ‘deeply regrets’ the substantial concessions made in the agricultural chapter with Mercosur. It expressed concern over how the deal would affect some of the EU’s most sensitive sectors, such as beef, poultry, sugar, ethanol, rice and orange juice, for which historically high tariff rate quotas have been proposed.

It added that the Commission did not secure enough ‘offensive interests’ that could have partly minimised the losses in the agriculture chapter. "Indeed, agriculture has been the trade-off chapter to facilitate gains in other sectors,” it said.