“In general, the EU has only offensive interest with regards to Georgia and Moldova in the meat sector,” Jean-Luc Mériaux, secretary general at the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV) told Globalmeatnews.com. “Both are emerging markets, especially for EU pork,” he explained.
The deal should help the EU increase the value of its pork meat exports to Moldova. They have already been on a steady increase over the past four years. While the EU exported to Moldova fresh, chilled or frozen pork meat with a value of €5.5m in 2009, in 2012 the value had reached €10.1m.
The value of EU poultry exports to Moldova has also been on the increase, ranging from almost €2m in 2009 to €7m in 2013.
The free trade agreement concluded between the EU and Moldova does not seem to bring such good cheer for Moldovan meat and livestock producers, however. According to a study commissioned by the European Commission and published in 2012, the output of the Moldovan livestock and meat sector is expected to decrease by at least 8% and by at most 22% as a result of the deal.
But there could be a silver lining. At the moment, Moldova is not allowed to export meat products to the EU at all, as it does not meet the bloc’s health and safety requirements. This is where Moldova’s gain from its agreement with the EU is expected to happen, as the 28 country bloc has promised to provide support to the small eastern European country in aligning its sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) with those of the EU.
According to the 2012 report, this move will help Moldovan meat products get access to the EU market. “The extent to which this opportunity materialises, however, depends on the costs to comply with the new standards and how they affect international competitiveness of Moldovan products: while costs increase, there may be productivity improvements too,” the report noted.
It also showed that, in the long term, the agreement is expected to add €142m to the Moldovan national income and €240m to that of the EU. And while the latter addition is negligible for the EU, it would bring a 5.4% increase in Moldova’s GDP in the long term, making the country a better meat export prospect.
In Georgia, the National Food Agency, which is a part of the agriculture ministry, welcomed the trade deal, saying it would help the country begin exporting meat products to the EU. “Opening the EU market will facilitate the Georgian meat industry,” an agency spokesperson told Globalmeatnews.com. He said once Georgia brings its meat and livestock controls in line with EU regulations, and “equivalence is recognised,” Georgia will be able to export meat products to the EU.
“The FTA will have a positive impact on Georgia’s meat industry,” she said, stressing that a key aim of the agreement is to boost Georgia’s food production industry. Currently, exports of many categories of meat products from Georgia to the EU attract a duty of 12.8%, with additional duties imposed, such as €176.80/100kg for carcases and half-carcases of high-quality beef and veal, and €171.30/100kg for carcases and half-carcases of lamb, fresh or chilled.
The National Food Agency spokesperson claimed that the Georgian government is not concerned about an increase in meat product imports from the EU as a result of the agreement: “Georgia is already importing different kinds of meat products from the EU, and we don’t have any concerns about this,” she said.
According to world trade data, exports of meat and edible meat offal from the EU to Georgia in 2012 exceeded 2,780 tonnes (t), with a value of US$7.3m. Meat of swine, fresh, chilled or frozen was the most exported category at 2,318t, with a value of US$5.5m, followed by meat of bovine animals, frozen, at 397t, with a value of US$1.6m.