Brussels, 4 July 2008
Agreement reached to liberalise trade in Agricultural and Fishery Products between the European Union and the Arab Republic of Egypt
A preliminary agreement has been reached by negotiators to further liberalise trade in agricultural, processed agricultural and fish and fishery products between the European Union and the Arab Republic of Egypt. This will form the basis of a future agreement, subject to completion of both sides' internal procedures. The agreement will give the EU free and immediate access to the Egyptian market for around 90 percent of agriculture and fisheries exports. There will be full liberalisation for all products except tobacco, wines and spirits and pig meat, for which current arrangements will remain in place. For confectionery, chocolate, pasta and bakery products, duties will be halved. In return, the EU market will be liberalised for all products except tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, courgettes, table grapes, garlic, strawberries, rice, sugar, processed products with high sugar content and processed tuna and sardines, where current arrangements will also continue to apply.
Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "I am delighted that we have been able to negotiate this deal, which will strengthen the position of European exporters on what is our most significant market in the Middle East region. This is the latest success in our Rabat roadmap for bilateral farm trade with our Mediterranean neighbours."
Under the framework of the Barcelona Process and in accordance with the Euro-Mediterranean Roadmap for Agriculture (Rabat roadmap) adopted on 28 November 2005, the European Commission entered into negotiations with the Arab Republic of Egypt on further liberalisation of trade concerning agriculture, processed agricultural, fish and fishery products.
Egypt gives free and immediate access for all farm and fishery products, with the exception of tobacco, wines and spirits and pig meat, which is the subject of no additional concession relative to the previous agreement. Chapters 1704 (confectionery), 1806 (chocolates), 1902 (pasta) and 1905 (pastry making) will benefit from a reduction of 50 percent of the customs duties for unlimited quantities, reducing the duty to 12.5 percent on average.
This agreement should make it possible to strengthen European exporters' position on the Egyptian market, which is the most important market in the Middle East. Community exports for the sectors involved reached almost €600million in the period 2005-2007, representing a positive balance for the EU compared to the value of Egyptian exports for the same period (€540 million). Some 90 % of European exported products will benefit from completely free market access on the Egyptian market, which is growing in size due to a strong demographic growth.
In return, it is proposed to completely liberalise the EU market for Egyptian imports with the exception of certain products which are considered as most sensitive, and for which certain protection is maintained (tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, courgettes, table grapes, garlic, strawberries, rice, sugar, processed products with high sugar content and processed tuna and sardines). For these products, the maintenance of calendars and/or tariff quotas, and respect of the entry price system without any further modification in relation to the currently applied situation, should allow the integration of Egyptian exports to the EU market while encouraging complementarities between the two production systems.
This agreement should send a positive signal to the ongoing market access negotiations with Egypt (services, in particular).