Against the dramatic disruption to the fruit and vegetable market

In a letter sent to Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, Copa and Cogeca express its growing concern about the consequences of the EU-Morocco agreement on the fruit and vegetable markets and in particular the tomato market. With the cumulative effects of Brexit, the EU tomato prices have plummeted to levels that do not cover the production costs for most European growers, putting the production at risk in strategic regions of the EU.

 

The provisions laid out in the EU-Morocco Agreement, which were revised in 2014, that regulate the export of tomatoes, originating in Morocco, to the EU are inefficient. In addition to entry price and duty mechanisms that proved to have limited effects on the imported volumes, the safeguard clauses provided in the treaty have never been triggered despite the serious depreciation of tomato prices in the EU markets resulting in the imports of 500,000 tonnes of tomatoes in 2020 corresponding to twofold the quota calculated - theoretically - to preserve the Moroccan traditional export flow.

 

Brexit is an additional factor that is aggravating the European market disruption, as the United Kingdom has been a major destination for more than 50% of European tomatoes bound for export. The EU-Morocco Agreement quotas have not been renegotiated following the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU to reflect the criterion that made it necessary to extend these quotas in the past when new Member States joined the EU. What's more, the tomatoes originating in Morocco can enter the UK without any tariffs! Trade is bypassing Europe and European tomato producers faced a reduction in exports to the UK in the first months of 2021. For now, Copa and Cogeca do not deem the trade deal to be an up-to-date deal.

 

Reacting to this situation, Copa-Cogeca Secretary General, Pekka Pesonen said, "The least we can say today is that we do not consider the trade deal to be an up-to-date deal. The situation on the ground is rapidly worsening, so the Commission must react quickly. Today we call on Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and his administration to do a comprehensive assessment of the impact of the increased volumes of imported fruit and vegetables, on the deterioration of the economic situation in European rural areas and on growers' income. The Commission should also suggest triggering planned safeguard clauses and compensation allocated to the European rural areas that have been impacted."

 

In the letter sent to the Commission, Copa and Cogeca also propose recalculating the fruit and vegetable import quotas and the flat-rate import values to reflect the new EU-27 market reality as well as new provisions that aim to reduce the competitive advantages that exist today in relation to production methods in Morocco.

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