`Farmers in Spain Seek Stop to Duty-Free Imports from Morocco

Europe

Farmers in Spain Seek Stop to Duty-Free Imports from Morocco

Dec. 14, 2015
Erin Ridley

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Since 2012, an agri­cul­tural trade agree­ment with Morocco has per­mit­ted duty-free imports of dozens of Moroc­can prod­ucts into the EU. This has included agri­cul­tural and fish­ery prod­ucts, and olive oil of every cat­e­gory.

Last week, an EU court annulled the agree­ment, prompt­ing Spain’s COAG Andalu­cia, the region’s union of farm­ers and ranch­ers, to request a stop to Moroc­can imports of olive oil into Spain (Morocco’s largest olive oil importer, account­ing for more than 60 per­cent of imports).

A large part of the con­cern, said COAG Andalu­cia, is that this lib­er­al­iza­tion (of imports), along with the lack of ori­gin con­trol when it comes to label­ing, not only allows for the import of oil from Morocco, but from any other pro­duc­ing coun­try in the region.”

Com­pound­ing the prob­lem, COAG said, is that these coun­tries don’t com­ply with the EU’s same strict reg­u­la­tions at all lev­els, whether those have to do with labor, envi­ron­ment or oth­er­wise. This puts the EU and its pro­duc­ers at a dis­ad­van­tage, as not every­one is play­ing by the same rules.

Beyond this, COAG Andalu­cia believes that such an agree­ment isn’t actu­ally ben­e­fit­ing Morocco’s local pro­duc­ers and economies, but only the olive oil lobby. This con­cern has also been raised with regard to Tunisia, which is the sub­ject of a pro­posed quota increase on duty-free olive oil imports to the EU.

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Though the EU court has ordered the annul­ment of the orig­i­nal 2012 agree­ment, com­merce shouldn’t be impacted at this point given that the EU still has over two months to appeal it. But it seems Spain might be using this open­ing to stop the duty-free trade of olive oil from the North African coun­try with­out delay.


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