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Block EU Trade Deal

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Government Must Block EU Trade Deal Which 'Could Threaten 1000s' of UK & Irish Farmers

The only beneficiaries of the Mercosur deal with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay will be multinational companies says union.

If Brexit means taking back control then the UK must oppose an EU free trade deal which could threaten the livelihoods of 1000s of UK and Irish farmers, says GMB. 

According to trade officials on both sides of the Atlantic, protracted negotiations on a blockbuster free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) are close to fruition and could be finalised before Christmas. 

As has become customary, the talks have been shrouded in secrecy to the extent that most consumers in the UK do not even know they are taking place. 

At a meeting in the European Parliament on November 7, British and Irish farmers expressed their concerns that it would be impossible for them to compete with exports from Brazil and that EU negotiators would accede to South American demands for larger sugar, ethanol and beef quotas in order to get the deal over the line. 

Meanwhile, Liam Fox's trade bill contains proposals for post-Brexit Britain to "fully implement any EU third country and other EU preferential arrangements which we transition" [1] 

This means the UK would still be bound by the terms of EU-Mercosur. 

Moreover, British trade ministers have made repeated trips to Mercosur capitals with a view to arranging their own bilateral agreements. 

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, said:

"A free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur could potentially put 1000s of British and Irish farmers out of business and would be a body blow to already hard-pressed rural communities. 

"We don't know the exact figure of farmers that could be affected due to the secrecy of the negotiations.

“It will also have a deleterious effect on small businesses and regional integration in South America which is why trade unionists on both continents are united in their opposition to the terms of the treaty. 

“As is the norm, the only beneficiaries will be multinational companies and agribusiness concerns that can take advantage of this market liberalisation. 

“However, it comes as no surprise that Teresa May's Government has no qualms about allowing the European Commission to collaborate with authoritarian and illegitimate regimes in the Southern Cone to the detriment of the people they purport to represent.

“If ‘taking back control’ means anything, the UK Government should do everything possible to ensure that the EU-Mercosur agreement does not see the light of day." 

ENDS

Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-legislation-to-prepare-uk-for-future-trade-and-customs-policy

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