"The effect is generally positive"

Effects of trade agreements in the EU food sector

The European Commission has presented to the EU Ministers of Agriculture the findings of a study on the cumulative effects of twelve future trade agreements on the food industry, including specific results for the production prices and the production volumes of a series of products, representing 30% of the value of EU exports in this sector.

The study illustrates the potential of European agricultural products in world markets and at the same time, shows the sensitivity of specific agricultural sectors. Detailed information on the possible effects will enable the Commission to make more informed decisions during the negotiation process.

The study, however, is not exhaustive; they were unable to quantify in detail the possible benefits for important products with significant export potential, such as fruits and vegetables, wine, olive oil or processed foods in general. These represent 70% of the value of EU agricultural exports. Nor have they been able to quantify the benefits that can lead to an improved protection of geographical indications.

The evaluation focuses only on the effects of the reciprocal liberalization of import tariffs between the EU and relevant trading partners, regardless of other provisions with economic effects - for example, the reduction of non-tariff measures, in particular sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The effect of the measures employed by the EU to protect vulnerable sectors in trade, such as the systematic use of limited tariff quotas agreements, also falls outside the scope of this evaluation.

With regard to this study, Vice President Jyrki Katainen said the following: "The overall picture is positive for high value European agricultural exports. This study shows that there are sensitive points; however, it focuses on only one part of the agricultural sector, and does not take into account various food products with great potential for export growth. This balance is fully reflected in the EU trade negotiation strategy, where we try to protect our vulnerable sectors through measures such as tariff quotas, while maximizing our positive interests whenever possible."

"The growth of the processed food sector in particular, also has beneficial side effects on the primary production sector. Exports of EU agricultural commodities support 1.4 million jobs, and another 650,000 jobs of the processed food sector also depend on our ability to export. The EU economy as a whole benefits greatly from trade, as evidenced by the free trade agreement recently concluded with South Korea."

Commissioner Hogan said the following: "Some member States and stakeholders have expressed their concern about the cumulative effect of bilateral trade agreements the EU has concluded and still trying to celebrate. This study answers these concerns and, based on the assumptions made, it shows that the effect of international trade agreements on agriculture and the European food industry is globally positive."

Commissioner Hogan also emphasized the following: "It is important to note that the findings of the cumulative impact study are not a forecast of the successful celebration of these twelve trade agreements, since these are based on a series of very specific cases that may reflect, as a whole or in part, or not, the EU's negotiating position in these agreements. For example, the study does not take into account the possible reduction of non-tariff measures, of which there are currently no reliable estimates. The use of tariff quotas for sensitive products, as is usually done in trade negotiations, is important to achieve a balance in EU agriculture as well as increasing exports through the EU protection of geographical indications."

The results of this study were presented to the EU ministers, and a new debate is expected to take place in the Council of Agriculture in January under a Maltese presidency.

Source: eurocarne.com

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