UFU: NI Farmers Relief as WTO Talks Collapse

UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union says local farmers will be relieved that the current world trade talks in Geneva have ended without agreement.
calendar icon 31 July 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

UFU President Graham Furey.

The UFU says the emerging WTO deal would have been potentially very damaging to local agriculture, which would have been exposed to much greater volumes of cheap imports of key commodities such as beef, pig meat and dairy products.

UFU President Graham Furey said; “There was nothing in this emerging WTO deal for local agriculture and it would have been damaging to our economy. Indeed the trade benefits to others sectors of the economy never materialised and agriculture would have been left to take all the pain. The key danger in the proposed WTO agreement was the opening up of the European market to huge volumes of cheap and inferior beef, pigmeat and dairy products. We have no problem with encouraging trade, but it must be fair trade, not double standards, and we have always opposed a WTO deal which would have put our farmers in the impossible position of trying to compete with cheap food imports produced in conditions which would not be tolerated on local farms”.

The UFU drew attention to the fact that the WTO talks collapsed because of disagreements between the USA, India and China. Graham Furey said; “Against a background of global food shortages, India and China took a stand to protect their own indigenous food producers against food import surges. The European Union should also be making this a priority. 15 million people across the EU are employed in agriculture, producing high quality food for consumers. The WTO deal was jeopardising these jobs and local food production”.

“European Union agriculture has already reformed significantly in recent years and any trade distorting subsidies have been removed. This was acknowledged in the WTO discussions, as was the EU’s strong track record in assisting the developing world with trade. Europe will continue to be by far the largest importer of food from the worlds developing nations. 50 of the worlds’ poorest countries benefit from duty free access to the European Union through the ‘Everything But Arms Agreement’ and Europe imports 85% of Africa’s food exports”.

Graham Furey added; “In recent years the Ulster Farmers’ Union has attended WTO negotiations in Cancun, Hong Kong and now Geneva. We have consistently highlighted that local farming must be secured to provide EU consumers with food produced to our high standards of safety and traceability, with our high animal welfare standards, and providing the backdrop of a well managed countryside. A bad WTO deal for local agriculture would have resulted in Northern Ireland and Europe becoming increasingly reliant on food imports as local production was lost, and this would have been disastrous for our economy and our consumers”.

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