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Trade talks around the world show few signs of progress

Trade talks around the globe are in disarray with prospects of a farm deal between the EU and the Mercosur bloc under threat and little progress made following further NAFTA discussions.

Reuters reported this week that a number of EU nations, led by France and Ireland, have proposed postponing a farm trade offer to South America’s Mercosur bloc until rules are agree to avoid unfair competition.

Countries vulnerable to imports

In a letter to the Commission signed by Austria, Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, the countries said they were particularly vulnerable to imports of poultry, beef, ethanol and sugar.

They added that an EU offer of imports quotas would be “untimely” until a “level-playing field” could be agreed.

But a counter letter pressing for a farm offer, which follows 18 years of talks, has been signed by Germany, Italy, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

The EU farm offer was due to be delivered next week during negotiations in Brazil and the resolution over agriculture is seen to be vital if the 2 sides are to reach a political framework agreement by the end of the year.

Key agricultural issues

Meanwhile, the third round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations between Canadian, US and Mexican officials in Ottawa have closed without the US tabling formal proposals on several key agriculture issues.

Reports from the talks say no substantive progress was made on opening up Canada’s supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors.

NAFTA talks described as complex

Egg Farmers of Canada representatives at the recent International Egg Commission conference in Bruges earlier this month described the NAFTA talks as “very complex and still evolving” but that the industry would continue to pay close attention and was committed to remaining in touch with negotiators, providing and educating them with detailed analysis of the industry.

There are concerns that unless there is progress by the end of the year that President Trump could trigger NAFTA’s withdrawal clause if he doesn’t see progress for the US.

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