Impact study released on proposed future European ag trade agreement |

Impact study released on proposed future European ag trade agreement

Thomas Magnusson

The European Commission this week released a study of the impact of proposed future trade agreements on European agriculture which showed a negative result for beef, sheep meat, rice and poultry but did not analyze wine, olive oil, fruit and vegetables, which could presumably benefit from reductions and other barriers to their products in other countries.

Copa and Cogeca, the biggest EU farm and co-op coalitions, criticized the commission for leaving out what they called “Mediterranean” products.

“This study confirms our views that the EU meat sector could be hit hard by some trade deals, unless conservative tariff rate quotes on imports are imposed, especially the one being negotiated with the EU Latin American Trade bloc Mercosur,” said Copa President Martin Merrild. “We believe that a potential deal with Mercosur could hit the EU agriculture sector badly, especially beef.

“Based on the methodology selected for this study, I believe that the commission is underestimating the fragile state of the EU pork sector and beef sectors. A deeper analysis which differentiates between carcass cuts and different qualities would be needed in order to develop the right EU meat strategy and maintain the EU’s production potential.”

Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson called for a report to address the key Mediterranean products.

“We believe that Mediterranean products like wine and olive oil can be better addressed in future relations with the Euromed area,” Magnusson said. “Furthermore, the report fails to look at the effects of non-tariff barriers to trade. In the trade talks with the U.S.A., for instance, we believe that there could be major gains if non-tariff barriers to trade and red tape are eliminated. For example, EU dairy producers are confronted with big obstacles when trying to market Grade A milk products in the U.S.

“We believe that the business trips organized by EU Agriculture Commissioner [Phil] Hogan are very strategic in this respect and increase our trade potential. We are already starting to see the fruits of these missions.”

“Due to the limitations of the available methodologies, the range of agricultural products for which the study provides more detailed analysis is not exhaustive,” The commission said. “Possible gains for important products having significant export potential — like fruit and vegetables, wine, olive oil and processed foods in general (accounting for 70 percent of EU agri-food export value) — could not be quantified in detail nor the gains of improved protection for geographical indications.

“The assessment focuses solely on the effects produced by reciprocal liberalisation of import tariffs between the EU and the relevant trade partners, not taking into account other provisions with an economic impact (e.g. the reduction of non-tariff measures, in particular sanitary and phytosanitary measures).

“The impact of measures used by the EU to protect vulnerable sectors in trade deals, such as the systematic use of limited tariff rate quotas is also out of the scope of this assessment.” ❖

— The Hagstrom Report

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