EU and Morocco agree to step up mutual farm trade
Negotiators of the European Commission (EC) and Morocco reached an agreement on October 27, 2003, regarding a mutual liberalization in farm trade. Following the agreement, some 96 percent of Moroccan agricultural traditional exports will benefit from a preferential access to the EU market.
Traditional EU agricultural exports to Morocco benefiting from preferential treatment will rise to 62 percent, stated a press release. Before entering into force, the agreement will be submitted to the Commission and the Council for formal approval.
In the spirit of the Barcelona Process, which calls for the gradual liberalization of agricultural trade, the agreement comprises tariff reductions and the increase of import quotas for many agriculture products, such as milk and cream, poultry, eggs, butter, cheese, dried vegetables, peas, garlic, apples, pears, dry fruits, cereals and vegetables oils.
Commenting on the agreement, EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said, “the mutual market opening will benefit Morocco and the EU alike. It means better market opportunities for EU farmers. At the same time, it finally gives our tomato producers a clear perspective regarding the conditions and quantities of tomatoes imported to the EU.”
For tomatoes, the EU has offered Morocco better market access, while at the same time taking account of the sensitivity of this product in the EU and respecting the mandate given by the Council. The agreement provides for fixed monthly import quotas at zero duty, amounting to 175 000 tons a marketing year, running from October to May.
In addition, a global additional quota of15,000 tons may be used between November and May. This additional quota will be progressively increased during the three campaigns which follow the 2003/2004 marketing year to reach 45 000 tons at the end of this period. However, if the total of Moroccan exports of tomatoes during one campaign exceeds the sum of contingents then in force, a quantity of 20,000 tons will be deducted from the additional contingent.
Morocco is ready to open its market for EU soft wheat. EU exports will benefit from a tariff reduction of 38 percent for a quantity of 1.06 million tons. However, if the Moroccan production exceeds 2.1 million tons for a given campaign, the preferential quantity will be reduced on a linear basis.
If the Moroccan production is equal or larger than three million tons, the preferential import quota to a minimum of 400,000 tons. Regarding the import duties, a mechanism is being put in place to compensate the effects of eventual fluctuations.
Formally launched in January 2001, the negotiations were held under Article 18 of the Association Agreement, which provides for the agricultural protocols of the Agreement to be revised to introduce gradually a greater degree of reciprocal liberalization. By the same token, the parties will meet again in 2007 to agree on further liberalization step from 2008 onwards. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)