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Got Beef With EC Import Tarriff Reduction?

13 June 2008

EU - The National Beef Association has joined with farmers’ organisations in Europe to persuade MEP’s to back efforts to persuade the European Commission to scrap plans to reduce beef import tariffs by 70 per cent – which is part of the settlement package put forward by UK Trade Commission, Mr Mandelson, during the current round of WTO negotiations.

It is also hoping MEP’s will help to convince the Commission that discussion during the CAP Health Check debate must take proper account of new supply/demand issues for beef at world level and make sure that the EU’s capacity to produce 94 per cent of the beef it consumes each year is not jeopardised by the same outdated, and unnecessary, concessions that could blight the WTO settlement.


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"We must make sure we don’t destroy our production base at exactly the same time it is about to become more important to us than at any time since the 1950’s"
NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“It is no secret that world demand for beef may soon exceed supply and in these circumstances it is obvious that the EU will no longer be able to rely on imports to maintain consumption levels if there are further falls in domestic production,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“However if a 70 per cent cut in import tariffs to the EU is approved at WTO level it could unleash devastating short and long term damage on beef output in Europe because it would immediately open up EU markets to the remnants of the world’s contracting production surplus and this pressure would last until international export excesses eventually disappeared.”

“These would be rushed into the EU, mainly in the form of high quality top cuts like steak, to take advantage of its uniquely high market prices and temporary sales would be secured at the expense of domestic industry structures through retail discounts only made possible by lower production costs, and slaughter cattle prices, in the importing country.

According to the NBA the world beef prices are rising, cattle in Brazil currently average 154p per dwkg compared with just 70p less than two years ago, but the stability of the EU’s beef sector is still vulnerable in the short term to heavily discounted imports.

“We must make sure we don’t destroy our production base at exactly the same time it is about to become more important to us than at any time since the 1950’s,” said Ms Haywood.

“The EU’s notorious beef mountains disappeared six years ago and the new threat at both European and world level is that food production will fail to meet rapidly expanding consumer demand.

“Minds at WTO, EU Commission and national government level must now concentrate on making sure nothing jeopardises food output and that political and economic instability triggered by shortfalls in supplies is never a problem with the European Community.”

“One of the biggest dangers facing the beef sector is EU trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson’s, determination to advance his preference for a 70 per cent tariff reduction during the current WTO round. The NBA would like the Commission to urgently reconsider this section of its WTO proposals and also take on board the Association’s concerns about production reduction when it turns its mind to the CAP Health Check,” Ms Haywood added.

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