Fears for Irish beef industry if Canada trade deal goes ahead
Calls for EU-Canadian Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement to be stopped
Attracta Uí Bhroin, the Irish Environmental Network with Patrick Kent, president ICSA at the press briefing at Buswells Hotel. Photograph: Photocall Ireland
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has called for a proposed EU-Canada trade deal to be stopped amid fears it could damage the State’s beef industry.
Ahead of the visit of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to Dublin on Tuesday, a number of unions and interest groups met to outline their concerns about the EU-Canadian Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
ICSA president Patrick Kent told the meeting that the deal could result in more than €1 billion worth of “high priced” but “lower standard” beef being brought into the EU market.
“We in the ICSA are very concerned that this is sell-out and that we are being used as a sacrificial lamb in this trade deal,” he said, adding that the beef industry was being “jeopardised”.
Attracta Uí Bhroin, from the Environmental Network, told the meeting that while her group is not opposed to trade, it is are opposed to trade at a price.
“We see CETA as a particularly bad deal for Ireland, ” she said. “What prime minister Trudeau nor the Irish Government nor any member state in the EU can do is change the text of the finalised negotiated agreement on CETA which contains, in article eight, provisions for big business to sue sovereign governments for taking action and making policies which impact on their profitability or their expectations of profitability for Ireland.”
Ms Uí Bhroin said this Investment Court System was a fundamental shift for Ireland and one which the country had not seen before.
“The real issue here is the extent of damages. Effectively our Government would be signing off on paying to foreign big business we they act in the public interest,” she added. “This is a game changer. One of the biggest issues is not just the blank cheque and the payouts that are taxpayers are going to be signed up for. It’s the regulatory chill effect and the fear of being sued and how this prevents governments from being sued.”
The Irish Congress of Trade Union told the meeting it had an “outright” opposition to CETA.
A spokesman for the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation said CETA would bring “new advantages and access to Irish meat producers” with immediate 100 per cent tariff-free market access for beef to Canada.
“Over the years, Ireland has developed an important pigmeat export trade to Canada and now there is potential to develop the export business for Irish beef and lamb also,” he said.
“In addition to the immediate full market access, the removal of the Canadian 26.5 per cent import tariff on Irish beef will be a huge advantage for farmers and meat producers.”