What could the EU-Mercosur trade deal mean for UK pig farmers?

Despite taking 20 years, a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) was recently agreed.

The agreement in principle is not legally binding but summarises the results of negotiations, however, the trade agreement still needs to be converted into legal text and ratified by EU member states as well as the European Parliament.

Nevertheless, it is significant enough for the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker to call it a “historical moment”. In this article, we look at the implications of this trade deal on EU agricultural trade and what it could mean for the UK.

For pig meat, Mercosur will have access to a 25,000 tonne TRQ (tariff-free-quotas), which will be equally divided in to six annual instalments. The in-quota tariff will be €83 per tonne, which is considerably lower than full MFN tariffs and most in-quota TRQ tariffs at present.

The meat eligible for import under this TRQ must be from ractopamine-free pigs.

The amount of pig meat currently imported into the EU from Mercosur is quite small (averaging around 37 tonnes between 2014 and 2018). Although the negotiated Mercosur TRQ is much larger than this, the overall quantity of the TRQ is a mere fraction of the amount of pork the EU produces, consumes and exports.

A spokesman for AHDB said: “Tariffs on EU pig meat exports to Mercosur will be eliminated. Between 2014 and 2018, EU pig meat exports (including offal) have averaged around 8,500 tonnes. Only around half of this is fresh/frozen pork, with processed products and offal also exported. It is not yet clear whether all pig meat products will be liberalised.”

The EU-Mercosur trade deal will only apply to the UK if it a member of the EU. Given the expected timeline for the deal to come into force, it is unlikely that the EU-Mercosur trade deal will apply to the UK (unless the UK decides to remain part of the EU).

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