Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) President Pat McCormack has criticized Spirits Europe, the body representing EU spirits producers, for supporting the Mercosur deal. Spirits Europe, along with two Brazilian organizations, has called for a swift conclusion of the EU-Mercosur trade agreement before the end of the year. In a joint statement, they expressed their support for the prompt ratification of the deal, stating that it will open up new opportunities for EU and Mercosur spirits producers and contribute to global, sustainable economic growth.
The controversial EU-Mercosur trade deal was negotiated in 2019 but has faced obstacles to its ratification due to concerns raised by member states, including Ireland. These concerns revolve around issues such as deforestation in Brazil, the potential impact on the EU beef market from imports, and the imposition of stricter standards on EU farmers compared to South American producers. Paraguay’s president has even threatened to withdraw from the negotiations if a deal is not reached before December 6. Mercosur countries include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
McCormack responded to the joint statement by questioning whether there were larger considerations beyond simply selling more whiskey to South American markets. He suggested that Spirits Europe should share the information and analysis they have used to satisfy themselves that a Mercosur agreement can be reached without a significant increase in South American beef exports to the EU, which could lead to deforestation and the displacement of indigenous peoples. He also highlighted the concerns raised by environmental agencies and NGOs, who believe that the anticipated increase in South American beef exports will result in further forest clearances, both legal and illegal.
McCormack expressed alarm at the apparent disregard for environmental considerations in sectors outside of agriculture, where such concerns govern every decision. He emphasized that the primary motive for South America in concluding the deal is to increase beef exports, and this would inevitably lead to more deforestation and carbon emissions. In his view, it is concerning that these environmental consequences seem to be of little or no consequence to other sectors involved in the trade deal.
It is clear that the Mercosur deal continues to be a contentious issue, with concerns about its potential impact on the environment and the EU agricultural sector. As negotiations progress, it remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed and whether a satisfactory agreement can be reached that satisfies all parties involved.