In a virtual seminar organized by Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias, Representatives of the European Commission (EC) and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism (Mincotur) defended increasing environmental requirements for agricultural imports in trade agreements with third countries.
The commercial policy promoted by the EC proposes increasing the sustainability requirements in the agreements, which would help ease the Spanish sector's concerns about the lack of reciprocity and inequality with its competitors.
In the seminar, the Director of International Relations of the Directorate General of Agriculture of the EC, John Clarke, and the Director-General of Trade Policy of Mincotur, Juan Francisco Martinez, analyzed the challenges and trade trends that affect and concern Spanish exporters.
Clarke said that Brussels planned to increase import requirements on animal welfare and pesticide residues in line with the EU's green strategies, such as 'From farm to table', which increases environmental demands on EU farmers. This could increase the phytosanitary requirements for Moroccan fruit and vegetable imports, Clarke added, in response to the concerns of the Spanish producer sector.
International trade accounts for a third of the turnover of Spanish agricultural cooperatives and agri-food is the first national export sector, stressed the president of Cooperativas-Agroalimentarias, Angel Villafranca.
The president of the organization of community cooperatives (Cogeca), Ramon Armengol, expressed their concern about the impact of trade agreements and the lack of reciprocity despite the European opening.
EU farmers are afraid of the agreement with Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), which is pending ratification, Armengol stated.
The EU has signed trade agreements with 80 countries, including Mexico, Mercosur, and Chile.
In the short term, the EC doesn't plan to have treaties with China, Russia, the US, or India, he added.
Alerts against protectionism
Clarke and Martinez warned of the negative effects that the promotion of restrictions against imports, as Spain is also an exporting country and needs supplies from other nations.
They said that the tendency to promote “only local production” was dangerous, as a competitive agri-food trade must combine local, regional, and international products.
The seminar was also attended by representatives of wine cooperatives (Marques de Reinosa), the fruit and vegetable sector (Anecoop and Almeria cooperatives), and the olive oil sector (DCOOP).