Moldova gets temporary trade liberalisation with the EU for seven foodstuffs

Source:  EURACTIV
овощи

EU ministers gave the final go-ahead to the regulation allowing Moldova to at least double their exports to the EU of tomatoes, garlic, table grapes, apples, cherries, plums, and grape juice for a period of one year without any duties.

The regulation, adopted by the EU Council on Monday (18 July), aims at helping Moldova overcome the consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war, also representing a step forward in deepening its trade relations with the EU by increasing the country’s exports to the member states.

In June, EU leaders approved the granting of EU candidate status to both Moldova and neighbouring Ukraine.

Before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moldovan exports relied heavily on Ukrainian infrastructures. Ukraine, Russia and Belarus were also exporters of Moldovan agricultural products. The temporary trade liberalisation measures will redirect those exports toward the EU.

As of now, relations between the EU and Moldova are governed by an Association Agreement that includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

Moldova’s exports to the EU consist mainly of cereals and cereal preparations, seeds, fruits, vegetables, wines and vegetable oils.

The regulation ensures the key seven agricultural exports – plums, table grapes, apples, tomatoes, garlic, cherries, and grape juice – can be sold in the single market without tariffs.

“With these exceptional measures, the EU deepens its trade relations with Moldova and shows its support for the stabilisation of Moldova’s economy”, said Jozef Síkela, Czech minister of industry and trade.

Earlier in July, the decision was also supported by the European Parliament which voted in favour of the regulation at its monthly plenary session.

“Now Moldova can redirect part of its trade to the EU, and the speedy agreement on this measure means that the country can already do so with this year’s harvest,” said the European Parliament’s rapporteur, the Greens’ Markéta Gregorová.

In May, the Parliament voted on a resolution calling for the suspension of import duties on all Moldovan exports to the EU, increasing the quotas for Moldovan agricultural products and facilitating labour access for Moldovans in the EU.

Fruit producers in the country told EURACTIV that they are concerned that increasing exports of their products to the EU markets might face difficulties, due to a belief that Europeans prefer to buy local.

“We found a market for our plums, but if we talk about the apple, then it is very difficult to get to the European market because the market is oversaturated,” said Ion Tulei, a Moldovan exporter of plums.

The EU is already contributing to Moldovan agriculture with support assistance funds in the context of programmes such as the Economic Stimulation In Rural Areas (ESRA) and the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).

These programmes have contributed to the modernisation of livestock farms and the establishment of new vineyards. After the start of these programmes, between 2015 and 2019, the share of Moldova’s exports going to Europe rose to 68% from around 50%.

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