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EU/MOROCCO : EXEC PRESENTS DRAFT AGRI-FOOD TRADE LIBERALISATION AGREEMENT.

The European Commission presented a draft decision, on 16 September, to the EU Council and the European Parliament on an agreement that would further liberalise trade with Morocco in agri-food and fisheries products. The executive concluded its negotiation of the terms with Rabat last December.

A number of member states, France first among them, voiced concerns at the time over concessions made to Morocco on fruit and vegetables considered to represent sensitive markets. But the Commission defended the agreement as being of "major offensive interest for the EU" because it phases in over a ten-year period full liberalisation of processed agricultural products, except pasta, to which a quantitative restriction will apply. In the agricultural goods sector, 45% of the value of EU exports will be liberalised immediately and 70% within ten years. The fisheries sector will also be opened up to EU products (91% in five years and 100% in ten years).

The agreement responds to Morocco's concessions by providing for immediate liberalisation of 55% of EU imports from this country.

For fruit and vegetables, which account for 80% of these imports, certain "sensitivities" were taken on board, assures the Commission, with the aim of developing the complementarity of production systems and consequently of trade between the two parties. Production schedules are maintained for the most sensitive products, namely tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, garlic and clementines. The concessions agreed for these products were made in the form of tariff quotas. The entry price system is also maintained for all products.

The EU's fruit and vegetable and tinned goods sectors, with the exception of beans, sweet almonds, apples and tomato concentrate (for which tariff quotas have been negotiated) will be fully liberalised within ten years. EU dairy products will enjoy completely liberalised access to the Moroccan market, apart from liquid milk and whole milk powder. Oilseeds and cereals (except for common wheat and durum wheat and their derivatives) will also be liberalised.

The Commission and Rabat have also agreed to open talks on the protection of geographical indications. The trade agreement contains provisions on compliance with international sanitary and phytosanitary obligations.

Signature of the agreement is conditional on a Council decision and the European Parliament's approval. Once endorsed, it will enter into force on the first day of the third month following the date of deposit of the last instrument of approval by both parties.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:6MORO
Date:Sep 17, 2010
Words:394
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