An EC statement noted that Tunisia is facing a difficult economic period following the recent terrorist attacks, and that the new offer to increase imports of olive oil is delivering on commitments to support Tunisia's Government and citizens, and to deepen the relationship between the EU and Tunisia.
The proposal will see Tunisian exports of olive oil to the EU increased, bringing a highly needed short term economic benefit to Tunisia.
The deal, which would be in place until the end of 2017, proposes to offer a unilateral annual duty free tariff rate quota of 35,000 tonnes for Tunisia's exports of olive oil to the EU, in addition to the existing 56,700 tonnes under the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement.
"Exceptional times call for exceptional measures,” said High Representative of the European Union Federica Mogherini. “Today's proposal is a strong signal of EU solidarity with Tunisia, and follows up on my commitment to Prime Minister Essid and Foreign Minister Baccouche last July.”
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, and Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, added that the initiative is a concrete effort targeted at one of the most important economic sectors of the country.
“It aims to create more jobs to the benefit of the Tunisian people,” they commented – adding that the measure has been designed to take into account its impact in the European olive oil sector.
The EC noted that olive oil is Tunisia’s main agricultural export to the EU, and the olive oil industry is an important part of the country’s economy, providing direct and indirect employment to more than one million people and representing one-fifth of the country’s total agricultural employment.
The proposal will now be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament for scrutiny and formal adoption before its entry into force.