EU agrees to LDC market access, transition for bananas, rice and sugar
by Chakravarthi Raghavan
Geneva, 27 Feb 2001 -- The European Union Monday approved its Executive Commissions proposal to eliminate quotas and duties on all products except arms from the worlds 48 poorest countries in the world, an EC press release has announced.
Meeting in Brussels, the EU Council of Ministers agreed to the plan, which will eliminate all duties and quotas, effective 5 March 2001, on all products from LDCs, except for sugar, rice and bananas.
The imports on these three products will be phased in over a transition period, the EC announced.
Duties on fresh bananas will be reduced by 20% annually, starting on 1 January 2002 and eliminated at the latest on 1 January 2006.
Duties on rice will be reduced by 20% on 1 September 2006, by 50% on 1 September 2007 and by 80% on 1 September 2008 and eliminated at the latest by 1 September 2009.
Duties on sugar will be reduced by 20% on 1 July 2006, by 50% on 1 July 2007 and by 80% on 1 July 2008 and eliminated at the latest by 1 July 2009.
The EC announced that to compensate the LDCs for the delay in liberalisation of market access for bananas, sugar and rice, the EU will offer the LDCs, duty-free quotas for sugar and rice, based initially on the best figures for LDC exports during the 1990s, plus 15%. These will increase by 15% each year during the interim period.
The Commission announced that this was being done to improve trading opportunities for LDCs, while giving time for EU countries to adapt to changes required in the Common Agricultural Policy for those with an interest in these three most sensitive products and taking into account the limitations imposed by the EU budget. The EU has also taken account of the constraints of other developing countries - traditional suppliers of these products to the EU - which are at present undergoing a difficult economic restructuring process.
The Commission, in addition, will monitor imports of rice, bananas and sugar carefully and apply safeguard measures if necessary to prevent damaging surges, and verify respect for rules of origin, as well as anti-fraud measures. The Commission will report to the EU Council in 2005 on the impact of trade within the EU and for LDCs, as well as on African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.-SUNS4845
The above article first appeared in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) of which Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor.
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