A second round of EU and US trade deal negotiations has begun yesterday in Brussels.

The talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership were initially set for October but the US Government shut-down caused them to be postponed.

The trade deal if successful will create the world’s largest free-trade deal. The US and EU account for US$30 trillion of annual output, which equates to almost half the world’s total.

There is concern however among the agricultural community in the EU that the deal could be detrimental for the sector particularly for the beef sector.

Speaking previously on the matter, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has stressed agriculture, in particular livestock, should be treated as a priority in these ongoing trade negotiations. According to its president, John Bryan, Ireland must insist the EU makes the agri-food sector a red-line issue in these talks.

He said there is a real fear that large concessions to the US on beef imports in these negotiations would severely damage Ireland’s agri-food sector and threatens thousands of jobs.

“As the largest beef exporter within the European market, a deal involving a substantial increase in beef imports from the US would inflict severe damage on the Irish livestock sector.”

In addition, the IFA president has warned that European producers and consumers will not accept food imports from production systems where the use of hormones in beef, BST growth promoters in milk and the beta-agonist drug ractopamine in cattle and pigs – all banned in Europe – is common practice.

“Europe cannot agree to any imports that fail to meet EU standards on the critical issues of food safety, traceability, environmental protection and animal welfare.”

The US continues to remain the EU’s biggest market for agricultural exports, while the EU is the fifth biggest market for the US. The talks will continue until Friday before being resumed for the third round in Washington on the 16-20 of December.

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