The UK’s third biggest trade union has thrown its weight behind a campaign to scrap the EU-Mercosur trade deal, insisting the agreement would ‘hurt UK farmers’. Sarah Beard reports.
The GMB union has joined the IFA (Irish Farming Association) and the NFU in suggesting that allowing more beef imports from Latin America will endanger the jobs of British farmers.
European farmers’ group Copa-Cogeca has also raised concerns that meat from the bloc would undercut that produced in the EU, but the EU’s Farming Commissioner, Phil Hogan, has said Latin American exporters would have to adhere to strict standards.
The EU is keen to sign off the Mercosur deal because it would mean lower tariffs on other valuable EU exports, such as cars and car parts.
But the union has slammed the UK Government for backing the deal, which it claims could put thousands of farmers out of business.
GMB’s international officer, Bert Schouwenburg, said: “This deal has been avidly supported by Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the UK Government, who are keen to develop their own trade links with Paraguay and the other Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay – after Brexit.
“This is despite the negative effects it will have on Britain’s own beef farmers.
“EU-Mercosur should be scrapped. It epitomises what is wrong with both EU and UK trade policy and the former’s claim that it constitutes ‘sustainable development’ is simply ludicrous.”
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said last week that a political agreement could be signed by September, which would mean the UK could attempt to ‘rollover’ the deal before it leaves the EU.
UK Ministers and leaders from the Mercosur bloc have both expressed an interest in signing a deal after Brexit.