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Inside the Final Day of the 107th IOC Council of Members Session

Diplo­matic and trade ten­sions loomed large over what was oth­er­wise an unevent­ful con­clu­sion to the 107th ses­sion of the Coun­cil of Mem­bers meet­ing of the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC), which con­cluded today in Buenos Aires. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of each mem­ber nation took turns read­ing out the find­ings of each of the four com­mit­tees, which were closed

Jun. 21, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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Diplo­matic and trade ten­sions loomed large over what was oth­er­wise an unevent­ful con­clu­sion to the 107th ses­sion of the Coun­cil of Mem­bers meet­ing of the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC), which con­cluded today in Buenos Aires.

I hope this meet­ing achieves our desired goals. Syria rejoin­ing the IOC would be ben­e­fi­cial for the peo­ple and econ­omy of our coun­try.- Syr­ian del­e­gate to IOC shortly before walk­ing out of the ses­sion

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of each mem­ber nation took turns read­ing out the find­ings of each of the four com­mit­tees, which were closed to the press. At the end of the ses­sion, all of the cor­re­spond­ing draft deci­sions were unan­i­mously adopted.

The diplo­matic ten­sions came to light dur­ing the sta­tus of acces­sions, rat­i­fi­ca­tions of the Inter­na­tional Agree­ment on Olive Oil and Table Olives of 2015 por­tion of the ses­sion.

Syria, which is one of three nations in the process of acced­ing to the IOC, has for­mally requested to rejoin the pay-to-play orga­ni­za­tion after being sus­pended due to out­stand­ing debts.

Upon invi­ta­tion, the Syr­ian del­e­gate addressed the ses­sion, urg­ing their appli­ca­tion to rejoin the orga­ni­za­tion to be expe­dited. At the time of writ­ing, not all of the del­e­gates’ names had been made avail­able to the press.

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I hope this meet­ing achieves our desired goals,” the Syr­ian del­e­gate said. Syria rejoin­ing the IOC would be ben­e­fi­cial for the peo­ple and econ­omy of our coun­try.”

Accord­ing to the del­e­gate, Syria pro­duced between 150 and 175 tonnes of olive oil last year and the olive oil sec­tor makes up about five to nine per­cent of the country’s agri­cul­tural income.

Syria joined the IOC in 1997 and remained a mem­ber until it was sus­pended in 2015 for fail­ing to ful­fill its finan­cial oblig­a­tion. The Syr­ian del­e­gate blamed its lack of pay­ment on a finan­cial cri­sis caused by inter­na­tional sanc­tions.

Syr­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials and enti­ties are cur­rently under sanc­tion from the United Nations, Euro­pean Union and the United States, among oth­ers, for their role in a civil war in which the gov­ern­ment has been accused of numer­ous human rights vio­la­tions and war crimes.

Once the Syr­ian del­e­gate had fin­ished speak­ing, the Turk­ish del­e­gate imme­di­ately requested the floor. She said that Turkey, which has not had diplo­matic ties with Syria since 2011, unequiv­o­cally opposed Syria’s appli­ca­tion.

Daniel Dawson for Olive Oil Times

We are opposed to Syria’s reac­ces­sion to the coun­cil,” the Turk­ish del­e­gate said. She later told Olive Oil Times that she could not dis­close the rea­sons for Turkey’s oppo­si­tion. The Syr­ian del­e­gates left the meet­ing soon after this episode and did not return.

Alba­nia and Iran are the other two coun­tries in the process of acces­sion. Alba­nia has sub­mit­ted its for­mal appli­ca­tion and, along with those of Syria, its acces­sion con­di­tions will be dis­cussed at the IOC’s meet­ing that is sched­uled for Sep­tem­ber in Madrid.

Mean­while, Iran’s par­lia­ment has approved the treaty and already paid its €26,085 con­tri­bu­tion fee.

The par­lia­ment of Iran has announced its invest­ment in the IOC,” Mehdi Karimi, Iran’s del­e­gate, said.

Dur­ing the Eco­nomic and Pro­mo­tion Committee’s report, the Euro­pean Union del­e­gate expressed his con­cerns about the United States’ trade sanc­tions against Spain. The del­e­gate said that the anti-dump­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of Span­ish black olives into the United States has already led to a 41-per­cent decrease in exports of the prod­uct.

Accord­ing to the del­e­gate, who addressed the ses­sion in Span­ish, Spain does not accept the tar­iffs and will appeal them to the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion. The tar­iffs will be for­mally approved by the United States at the end of July.

Sep­a­rately, a Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokesman con­demned the Amer­i­can tar­iffs ear­lier this week in Brus­sels, label­ing them pro­tec­tion­ist and unfounded.

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The deci­sion by the United States Depart­ment of Com­merce to impose unrea­son­ably high and pro­hib­i­tive duties anti-sub­sidy and anti-dump­ing duties on Span­ish olives is sim­ply unac­cept­able,” a Com­mis­sion spokesman told Reuters. This is a pro­tec­tion­ist mea­sure tar­get­ing a high-qual­ity and suc­cess­ful EU prod­uct pop­u­lar with US con­sumers.”

Other top­ics dis­cussed at the ses­sion included the 2019 IOC bud­get, boost­ing online sales, spon­sor­ing a South­ern Hemi­sphere com­pe­ti­tion for small pro­duc­ers (those who make less than 150 liters of olive oil each year) and cre­at­ing a more uni­form sys­tem for estab­lish­ing chem­i­cal and organolep­tic qual­i­ties of olive oil across mem­ber nations.

The Chem­istry and Stan­dard­iza­tion Com­mit­tee dis­cussed the stan­dard­iza­tion of qual­ity assur­ance con­trols and com­mis­sioned more stud­ies on the nutri­tional and health ben­e­fits of olive oil.

The Turk­ish del­e­gate fur­ther advo­cated for the mem­ber nations hav­ing uni­form cus­toms pro­ce­dures for con­trol­ling the qual­ity of imported olive oil. She also urged the IOC to take a more active role in medi­at­ing dis­putes between mem­ber coun­tries.

The IOC should play a more active role in arbi­tra­tion and more of the onus of qual­ity con­trol should be on the import­ing coun­try,” she said.

Mean­while, the Advi­sory Com­mit­tee had ana­lyzed issues per­tain­ing to organolep­tic test­ing at a meet­ing held ear­lier this year in Amman, Jor­dan. The com­mit­tee con­cluded: imple­men­ta­tion of organolep­tic test results does not offer enough legal cer­tain­ties to coun­tries, specif­i­cally in trade.”

In Spain, both the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Indus­trial Pack­ers and Edi­ble Oil Refin­ers (Anierac) and the Span­ish Asso­ci­a­tion of the Olive Oil Export­ing Indus­try and Com­merce (Aso­liva), have voiced sim­i­lar con­cerns.

The com­mit­tee said it had made rec­om­men­da­tions, which were adopted at the end of the ses­sion. The details of these rec­om­men­da­tions have not yet been made pub­lic.

The ses­sion wound down with an oppor­tu­nity for observers to address to the IOC mem­bers. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, the United States and the Inter-Amer­i­can Insti­tute for Coop­er­a­tion on Agri­cul­ture all thanked the coun­cil for invit­ing them to attend.

Brazil’s del­e­gate con­cluded the meet­ing by enthu­si­as­ti­cally announc­ing that they were begin­ning the process of join­ing the IOC.

Brazil is tak­ing the nec­es­sary mea­sures to become a mem­ber of the IOC,” he said. It’s of great impor­tance for Brazil to become a mem­ber of this coun­cil.”


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