On the basis that the move threatens the Irish beef sector, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) has hit out at Ireland’s drinks companies for their support of the Mercosur trade deal.
ICMSA president Pat McCormack described the comments made by the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) - in which the Mercosur trade deal was described as an “opportunity” for Irish exporters - as “jaw droppingly self-centred in both economic and environmental terms”.
McCormack said that spiritsEUROPE, a lobbying body for Brazilian and European spirits makers which includes both Diageo (Guinness) and Pernod Ricard (Jameson), has called for “a swift conclusion” to negotiations on Mercosur by the end of the year.
He said that while everyone would understand the wishes of international drinks manufacturers to increase their sales and minimise tariffs, there were surely bigger factors to consider than a desire to sell more whiskey to South American markets.
The ICMSA president warned that the Mercosur agreement would involve a “massive and immediate ramping-up” of South American beef exports to the EU.
McCormack insisted that this would lead to a “knock-on” effect where there would be further rainforest clearance in Brazil and the eviction of indigenous people.
“Everyone else – every single reputable environmental agency and NGO that has looked at this – has concluded that the envisaged increase in South American beef exports that is the driving motive for the South American states supporting Mercosur will guarantee even more legal and illegal forest clearances with utterly catastrophic implications for climate ambition.
“I genuinely think that set against those depressingly predictable results that calling for a Mercosur agreement so they you can flog more whiskey in South America starts to look very, very self-centred and short-sighted, to put it mildly,” he said.
Pat McCormack said that if a farm organisation was to publicly call for a trade agreement on a similar “self-centred basis”, then the media would “throb with condemnation and accusation”.
“The Mercosur agreement will have consequences that go well past the marketing wishes of whiskey distillers. It can’t be just the farmers who are told that the environment must now be the first consideration,” he concluded.