Rónán says: “We must protect Irish agriculture. On 18 October 2013 the EU and Canada reached a political agreement on the key elements of a trade agreement called CETA. We are told that this agreement will remove over 99% of tariffs between the two economies and create sizeable new market access opportunities in services and investment.
The EU – Canada trade deal is the first trade deal that the EU has done with a G8 country, and is widely regarded as a scene-setter for trade talks underway between the EU and the US.
Like all free trade negotiations conducted by the European Commission, the EU-Canada negotiations were held in secret and were driven by Canadian and European big business that want market access. Concerns about maintaining rural communities were not prioritised.
We can’t know what negotiations are ongoing with the USA, but the EU Commission should not repeat the agriculture market access concessions to Canada in its forthcoming negotiations with the USA.
The US diplomatic service is working to drive a one-sided deal, in which large volumes on beef and pigmeat and other agricultural products of dubious quality are imported into the EU, while the USA offers very modest market access for EU exports.
I agree with the IFA that our Government must be a strong voice in Europe to resist pressure to liberalise trade for sensitive products, such as beef and pigmeat.
Meanwhile, the Government must insist that any imports from Canada fully meet EU standards on production, food safety and the environment. Commitment to these important issues loads significant costs on Irish farmers. They should not be directly or indirectly penalised as a result.
I will fight to for a fair deal for Irish farmers in any future trade deals made at EU level.”