Breeders fear EU-Mercosur pact will affect Belgium business

Breeders fear EU-Mercosur pact will affect Belgium business
A Limousin breed cow is held by the bridle after a competition during the Libramont outdoor agricultural fair in Libramont, Belgium. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

Breeders fear EU-Mercosur pact will affect Belgium business

Breeders fear EU-Mercosur pact will affect Belgium business
  • Farmers at Libramont are unconvinced and pessimistic for the future despite the impressive size and quality of their livestock, proudly on display
  • Farmers to face competition from the vast ranches of South America

LIBRAMONT, BELGIUM: The Libramont agricultural show is the highlight of the year for Belgium’s proud beef industry, but this year even the sunny skies of western Europe’s record heatwave couldn’t chase one looming shadow away.

The breeders parading their famous Belgian Blue beef cattle will soon face competition from the vast ranches of the South American pampas.
Resistance is building among some European farmers against a draft trade deal reached by EU officials with the Mercosur group — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
After 20 years of negotiations, officials in Brussels — 140 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of the pastures of Ardennes — are very pleased with the accord that could save European exporters €4 billion ($4.5 billion) in duties per year.
But, as member states decide whether to ratify and implement the deal, EU farmers and environmentalists are less excited.
Beef breeders in particular say that EU quality standards are higher than those in Latin America, and fear a flood of cheap meat will drive them to the wall.
“We are already close to over-production in all of Europe and in Wallonia as well ... The last thing we need is Brazilian meat, especially when we see the conditions in which it is produced,” warns Hughes Falys, beef producer and farmers’ union spokesman.
“Mercosur isn’t a case of ‘Yes, maybe’ or ‘Yes, if’. Mercosur is ‘No!’,” declares the Wallonia regional Farming Minister Rene Collin to loud applause.
Collin might not be a regular on the G20 summit circuit or at WTO get-togethers. But the world’s trade negotiators may find they have to listen to the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia, home to only 3.6 million people.
In 2016, the region held up Belgium’s signature of the CETA trade deal between the entire EU and Canada, and it could make life complicated for Brussels once again.
“We made them evolve CETA. We made them put important safeguard clauses in there. We’ll be just as vigilant when it comes to Mercosur,” Collin told AFP at the four-day fair and trade show.

BACKGROUND

• Resistance is building among some European farmers against a draft deal reached by EU officials with the Mercosur group.

• After 20 years of negotiations, officials in Brussels are very pleased with the accord that could save European exporters €4 billion in duties per year.

• But, as member states decide whether to ratify and implement the deal, EU farmers and environmentalists are less excited.

And he warns that the regional Parliament and Belgium’s members of the European Parliament could vote against ratification.
The European Commission has tried to reassure farmers, so far to no avail.
The deal contains two big promises to the sector: Increased beef imports will be limited to 99,000 tons a year, and €1 billion will be set aside for European farmers.
Farmers at Libramont are unconvinced and pessimistic for the future despite the impressive size and quality of their livestock, proudly on display.
“Lots of older farmers find it difficult to sell up, especially livestock farmers,” says Beatrice Ghyselen, a 61-year-old farmer from Vedrin, outside the Wallon capital Namur.


Samsung launches new flagship Galaxy S smartphone early, targets remote workers, gamers

This photo provided by Samsung shows the Galaxy S21. (Samsung via AP)
This photo provided by Samsung shows the Galaxy S21. (Samsung via AP)
Updated 15 January 2021

Samsung launches new flagship Galaxy S smartphone early, targets remote workers, gamers

This photo provided by Samsung shows the Galaxy S21. (Samsung via AP)
  • Samsung is set to release the S21 series at a cheaper rates
  • The series will be widely available starting Jan. 29 through Samsung.com, carriers and retailers online

SEOUL, South Korea: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on Thursday unveiled the first Galaxy S smartphone with a stylus for on-screen work called the S Pen, more than a month ahead of its usual annual release schedule for models of its flagship compact phone.
Analysts have said offering a stylus within the Galaxy S21 series might signal the South Korean tech giant will merge the S line with its other premium smartphone range, the Note, already equipped with a note-taking stylus. That could free up resources for Samsung to push its separate range high-end foldable phones as key mass products rather than niche devices.
Samsung is also looking to grab market share after China’s Huawei Technologies was hit with US sanctions that restricted its supply and hurt sales, analysts have said.
An early Galaxy S21 launch is a likely tactic to capitalize on Huawei’s woes, said Counterpoint Research analyst Sujeong Lim. New iterations of the Note typically come in the second half of the year.
Lim said Samsung faces intense competition in the high-end category from Chinese vendors amid growing demand for devices that can be used for remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as play like videogaming.
In the United States, the Galaxy S21 price range starts at $799.99, the S21 Plus version at $999.99, and the S21 Ultra at $1,199.99.
The series will be widely available starting Jan. 29 through Samsung.com, carriers and retailers online, Samsung said.
With the most advanced processing chip in any Galaxy device, the S21 is 5G compatible and designed for shooting and viewing video and images as well as on-screen work. The top end of the range, the Ultra — the only version compliant with the S Pen stylus, which has to be bought separately — sports a four-lens rear camera that allows different angles and zoom shots.
Samsung plans to offer the stylus with other devices, said TM Roh, head of Samsung’s mobile communications business.
The standard S21’s screen size is 6.2 inches, with the S21 Plus at 6.7 inches and S21 Ultra is 6.8 inches, optimal for watching videos and gaming. The latter two are close in size to last year’s Galaxy Note ‘phablets’ — a cross between a phone and a tablet.
The S21 series is powered by Qualcomm Inc’s Snapdragon 888 chips or Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 chips depending on the region, Samsung said. Qualcomm said last month the 5G chips will be manufactured by Samsung’s chipmaking division.