Commission rejects US criticism of cereal imports

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Eu, European union, International trade

"I am deeply troubled by this misunderstanding', said EU
Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler in response to allegations made by
US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and US Trade Representative
Robert Zoellick that the EU intends to restrict EU imports of
cereals and rice.

"I am deeply troubled by this misunderstanding'​, said EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler in response to allegations made by US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick that the EU intends to restrict US imports of cereals and rice.

In a news release on 28 June 2002, Secretary Veneman and Ambassador Zoellick claim that the European Commission "would seek to restrict access by the United States and other nations to European markets for grain and rice"​.

Fischler strongly disagreed. "The opposite is true. We have no intention of restricting access of cereals and rice to the EU market. GATT provisions fully provide for the maintenance of the rights of our WTO partners.

Our objective in these negotiations, therefore, is to improve the system to more accurately fulfil our WTO obligations and protect our rights. The present EU regime for importing rice and cereals to the EU does not work,"​ he added.

"We will negotiate with those WTO trading partners, which are key exporters to the EU,"​ Fischler concluded.

The European Commission wants to replace the current EU import regimes for rice and cereals, which, the Commission maintains, are no longer working correctly. It is seeking to replace them with a more linear system, possibly based on tariff rate quotas and fixed duties. In this context, the Commission has adopted a proposal to open negotiations with its WTO partners to modify the EU system of duties charged by the EU for rice and cereals imports.

The current system to calculate EU import duties for cereals takes US Commodity Exchange quotations as representative for world cereal market prices. Lower prices in other regions of the world are not reflected in this method. This has led to increased imports at abnormally low duties, and market imbalances in the EU, the Commission claims in a statement this week.

If the proposal is accepted by the Council, the Commission will start negotiations with relevant WTO members to replace the current import system, which is based on representative prices and linked to the EU intervention price.

Related topics: Policy

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