The Taoiseach has said that the Government will conduct a full economic assessment of the impact the EU-Mercosur trade deal will have on Ireland.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Leo Varadkar said Ireland would vote against the deal if the assessment showed that the risks outweighed the benefits.

The EU-Mercosur trade deal paves the way for a significant increase of imports of cheaper beef and other goods from South America.

Voices from across the agricultural sector have been strongly critical of the deal, with the IFA saying it would "decimate" the Irish beef industry.

The Taoiseach acknowledged that Ireland could not block the deal at the EU Trade Council, even if it voted against it, but said that such a vote was at least two years away.

"This would go to the Trade Council for a Qualified Majority Vote in about two years' time, so there's a long way to go yet. What we will do now is an economic assessment of the EU-Mercosur deal to see what impact it'll have on the Irish economy and on jobs. If it's going to have a negative impact on the Irish economy and jobs, then obviously we'll vote against it. If it has a positive impact, well then we'll be minded to vote for it".

He said a blocking minority would need to be formed to stop the deal.

"You would need a blocking minority, but as I say this doesn't arise for probably two years."

Mr Varadkar also said that other trade deals had been good for the beef sector, such as those with Japan and Mexico.

He also said the Mercosur deal was good for other areas of the economy.

"It appears it may be good for dairy, good for the drinks industry, good for SMEs and good for the services sector. It's also very evident that it would be bad for the beef sector so we'll have to do an economic assessment."

The Taoiseach said he would not make a decision on reappointing Commissioner Phil Hogan until after a new European Commission President was in place.