The designation of pigmeat as a sensitive product under the future EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been called for by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).
Speaking in Dublin at the launch of a detailed position paper on the TTIP negotiations, IFA president Eddie Downey said that while Ireland has very strong links with the US, both economically and culturally, there could be no acceptance of a trade deal that “would damage farmers and Irish agricultural exports on the EU market”.
On pigmeat, in particular, the paper highlights a history of “significant differences in production costs for pork” between the EU and the US. It also states that US meat processing costs are lower than in the EU and that there are major differences between the EU and US concerning the “wide-scale use of antibiotic treatments” and the use of the feed additive ractopamine, which is banned in the EU.
The IFA goes on to warn, however, that increased market access to the EU for US pigmeat would “potentially result in a targeting by the US of high value cuts, such as loin and ham”.
“The European market for pork is highly segmented and the value of the whole pig is very dependent on the value achieved from each individual cut of the carcase,” said IFA. “Consequently, a general tariff rate quota (TRQ) for US imports, without any quantitative limitations on individual cuts, has the potential to create a significant price disturbance on the internal EU market.”
In light of such concerns, the IFA paper calls for the following key points to be included in any TTIP agreement:
- Equivalence of standards for US imports, including a continued prohibition on the use of growth promoters and feed additives.
- Designation of pigmeat as a sensitive product.
- TRQ allocation on a proportionate basis for each individual product line. This must mean access is based upon the natural fall’ of cuts.
- Pigmeat products permitted for import into the EU must meet equivalent animal welfare standards.
- Reduction of non-tariff barriers for US authorisation of EU export plants.