The Uraguauan Foreign Minister, Rodolfo Nin Novoa has said that beef quotas will form part of a new free-trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur trading bloc.
Minister Novoa, told reporters that agricultural products are on offer by the European Union to Mercosur, including sheep, swine, dairy, meat and grains.
"What is not is the amount of quota beef", but they are to be determined at 'in time', which gives us certainty that it will be part of the negotiation and we are going to negotiate that, obviously, " he said.
He clarified that the agreed text "does say that quotas are to be determined in time for the meat, which gives us the certainty that is part of the negotiation and we will negotiate that obviously," he said.
Earlier this week EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström refused to rule beef out of a new trade deal between the EU and a host of South American countries.
Her comments in the European Parliament came as Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that South American beef would be ‘off the menu’ and would be withdrawn from the current negotiations with the Mercosur trading bloc.
However, in response to a questioning from a number of Irish MEP’s Commissioner Cecilia Malmström refused to confirm the move.
She said that Mercosur was a fantastic export market opportunity for the EU with a population totalling 250m people. She added that there were huge opportunities for European business including agriculture.
Malmström said she was aware of the crisis in the agriculture sector at present but highlighted the potential for the Mercosur deal to reduce feed costs across Europe by removing import tariffs.
However, she refused to rule in or out ‘beef’ from the negotiations.
New Irish Minister for Agriculture Micheal Creed while welcoming the news that beef would not be included in the initial offer did also warn for the need for continued vigilance.
He said Ireland had previously called for a period of further analysis to be undertaken in order to fully assess, among other things, the cumulative impact of beef quota concessions granted under other free trade agreements.
It had also said that the treatment of sensitive products should be handled in a consistent manner across all free trade negotiations, by leaving such issues to the final stages of negotiations.
“I hope and expect that the required time will now be made available to allow the completion of the required impact assessment by the Commission, and that the findings will be fully taken into account when the negotiations move into their next phase.
"I will also work to ensure that our concerns in relation to the timing of any TRQ offer for beef are acknowledged and that any TRQ ultimately considered is structured in a way that mitigates the potential impact on the EU beef sector,” he said.