‘Beef must be kept off talks table’

editorial image

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed the removal of beef from the current trade negotiations between the EU and Mercosur bloc of South American countries.

Commenting Mr. Nicholson said: “This week’s announcement that the European Commission have removed beef from their initial offer in relation to the current EU/Mercosur trade talks is a welcome development.

“There are serious concerns that opening up the EU marketplace to cheaper beef imports would have a huge impact on Northern Ireland’s farmers and the EU beef sector.

“I have been pushing hard to have beef removed from the negotiations which have stepped up a gear, particularly since a change of government in Argentina last year. In recent weeks I have raised local industry concerns with the Agriculture Commissioner, Trade Commissioner and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.”

Mr. Nicholson also recently hosted a hearing in the European Parliament which brought together a range of agri stakeholders to consider the potential implications of any trade agreement with Mercosur for agriculture.

Mr Nicholson concluded: “Trade is important for the economy but so is the local agricultural industry - agriculture must not be used as a bargaining chip to secure a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur.

“Beef being taken off the table is welcome but it must be kept off the table - I will continue to fight for the local agricultural industry as a whole as the negotiations with Mercosur develop.”