Free trade talks are “challenging” for livestock sector

Europe’s farm leaders have warned that the continuing free trade talks between the EU and USA will be “challenging” for the livestock sector, with pork being one of the items already given sensitive status, alongside beef and poultry.

With the talks having reached the 12th round of negotiations in Brussels this week, Copa-Cogeca has raised concerns over the lack of progress in eliminating red tape and non-tariff barriers to trade. The organisation, which represents EU farmers and EU farm cooperatives, remains keen, however, to see the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) achieve ultimate success.

Calling for negotiators to be “ambitious” in their approach to the issues that remain, Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said that protectionism was not the answer to the crisis situation currently hitting EU agricultural markets, adding instead that there were gains to be made from TTIP.

“There are opportunities to be had from a deal as long as red tape and non-tariff barriers to trade are cut,” he said.

“We need to ensure that tariff cuts in the market access offers are balanced after they were exchanged in October (2016) with 97% of tariff lines included in the offer.”

The remaining 3% are in an “other treatment category” which includes very sensitive agriculture sectors. This is the section under which pork, beef and poultry have been classified as sensitive, a point on which Copa-Cogeca said that issues like standards of production and levels of domestic support “should be included” in the current TTIP discussion.

“We see some opportunities for EU wine, some cheeses, olive oil and processed meat exports in the talks but it will be more challenging for the livestock sector,” said Mr Pesonen.

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