With a new round of talks starting on 21 February in Asuncion between the EU and Mercosur representatives, the European Confederation of Maize Production (CEPM) re-affirms its opposition to the offering of any concession concerning corn, sweetcorn and ethanol to the South American giants. Already threatened by exacerbated competition on the EU market, the sustainability of the European maize production is at stake.
At the CEPM Board Meeting on 20 February, EU maize producers emphasised the difficulties encountered by European maize-growers with the price collapse of the past few months, following increased competition between the leading global market players, and a €/$ parity that is penalising European products.
This is translating into massive maize imports into the EU, amounting to 14 Mt for the 2017/2018 crop year according to the latest DG AGRI figures, despite the implementation of a customs duty (currently €5.61/t) on maize entering the EU. While the share of Brazilian maize on the European market has decreased over the past few years, the South American giant is back in force, with close to 5 Mt exported to the EU since 1st July 2017.
Whether through irony of fate or just coincidental timing, the European Commission is now about to give another present to Mercosur producers, in the shape of a new duty-free quota for corn! Needless to recall, Brazil and Argentina both already benefit from undeniable competitive advantages, such as access to technologies European producers are banned from using. GMOs, atrazine, neonicotinoids… these are just a few examples of significant distortions that CEPM cannot accept! If European producers cannot use these technologies, imported maize should be subject to the same rules!
The EU urgently needs to realise how dangerous these trade talks are for the sustainability of a maize sector aiming to meet the demands of European citizens. In addition, CEPM is waiting for answers on how European maize can regain its competitiveness to enable the EU to achieve maize self-sufficiency. The next CAP reform will therefore be a historic opportunity which must be seized; CEPM is ready to work with all stakeholders on this issue.