The most important political and economic decision of the past week didn’t happen during the G20 summit held in Japan, but during trade negotiations in Brussels.
After 20 years of bargaining, the European Union and the South American Mercosur trading block which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, have reached agreement on a new free-trade deal.
Covering markets with the total of approximately 780 million consumers, the deal is the largest free trade agreement involving the EU and it follows the recent European trade agreements with Canada , Japan, Mexico, and Vietnam. The agreement is set to eliminate import taxes levied on European goods and services exported to the South American block and a reciprocal reduction in taxes on imports from those countries into Europe.
The deal includes many economic sectors, however it’s no accident that images of cows were picked for the headlines of the deals’ media coverage. The cows flesh industry has a very big part in the deal, as one of the goals of the Mercosur countries is to intensify it. They hope to export up to 99,000 tonnes of cows flesh to Europe every year before they have to pay tariffs. 99,000 tonnes of cows flesh is about 450,000 suffering individuals.
Such a large scale export of cheap animals flesh is expected to increase the flesh consumption of the 500 million European consumers. And even the hope that it would at least lead to a decrease in European factory farms, is very unlikely since the EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said that the European Commission would provide up to a billion euros in support to farmers “in the event of market disturbances“. That support might lead to a reduction in the European flesh’s prices and so an overall greater increase in consumption. Continue reading