Agriculture must be protected – Nicholson

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has reiterated his concerns about the potential implications of a free trade agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc of Latin American countries for the EU’s agricultural industry.

The comments come as negotiators on both sides seek to make progress in the stalled talks.

The EU and Mercosur are expected to exchange new trade offers in the next few weeks.

The Mercosur bloc of Latin American countries includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay.

The MEP said: “Much of the media attention focuses on the proposed trade agreement between the EU and US, so-called TTIP. Whilst a major issue these talks are not likely to progress in the months ahead due to the US presidential election.

“I am however extremely concerned by developments with regards the proposed trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur bloc of Latin American countries. There is clearly a desire from a number of EU member states and Mercosur to revitalise the stalled trade negotiations.

“Renewed efforts to make progress on a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur is cause for concern for local agriculture, particularly the beef sector. Indeed a number of countries, including the Republic of Ireland and France have voiced their fears about the impact of such a deal on European agriculture.”