Nicholson to host Mercosur hearing

Jim Nicholson

Jim Nicholson

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson will chair a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels to consider the potential impact of a free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur bloc on agriculture.

The event, which will bring together industry representatives, trade officials, academics and MEPs comes as negotiations step up a gear – negotiators are expected to exchange market access offers in the second week of May.

Mr Nicholson said: “On May 3 I will be hosting a hearing to consider the potential implications of a trade deal with Mercosur for EU agriculture.

“Although it will be some time away, if a deal with Mercosur is concluded it has the potential to destroy the beef sector.

“Unless sensitive sectors of agriculture, such as beef, are protected I fear that there will not be a suckler cow left in Europe due to the impact of beef imports. A trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur could also have long term implications for dairy, chicken and pork.”

He said the public hearing will tease out the longer term implications of the proposed trade agreement and there will be contributions from a number of experts. Given that there is renewed interest in these trade negotiations the hearing is a good opportunity to debate the issues and highlight industry concerns.