EU resumes talks with Mercosur on imports

European meat importers will be looking to boost supplies from the Mercosur countries of South America if they strike a planned trade deal with the European Union (EU).

A resumption of negotiations on slashing tariffs for goods traded between the EU's 27 member countries and the four-country Mercosur block (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) has been announced by the European Commission.

An earlier attempt to forge such a deal was suspended in 2004, after nine years of negotiations failed to secure agreement.

The Commission said a fair deal on trading foodstuffs is critical for securing an overall agreement. And this could promote exports of meat from these producer South American countries.

High-quality beef and veal imported from the Mercosur countries into the EU currently attracts duties of 12.8% plus E176.80/100kg; for carcases and half-carcases of lamb, it is 12.8 % plus E171.30/100kg.

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht thinks the time is ripe to restart the talks. He said: "Negotiations such as these are challenging, but the moment is right to take a fresh look at the state of discussions so far." His team will be looking to secure better market access for EU meat producers in return.

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