The Government will have to carry out a comprehensive economic assessment on all elements of the Mercosur trade deal, according to the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Speaking on RTÉ'S News at One, Heather Humphreys said the deal with South American nations will not happen for some time and there is an opportunity to step back and look at it in detail.

Ms Humphreys said while concerns have been raised about the deal by the beef sector, there are opportunities for other sectors.

"Obviously there are serious concerns in relation to the impact it will have for the beef sector... but I think it is important we recognise this deal isn't all bad and there are benefits for exporters in other sectors such as business services, chemicals, machinery, medical devices and dairy," she said.

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

The Mercosur trade deal has been almost 20 years in the making and involves Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.


EU/Mercosur trade deal - What you need to know


The region has 260 million consumers, making it the fifth largest market outside of the European Union.

It is the largest free trade agreement negotiated by the EU to date and follows on from the completion of recent European trade agreements with Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Vietnam.

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

Ms Humphreys said the deal would make Irish exports for these sectors more attractive to the South American market.