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Brussels, 22 December 2010

Draft agreement for full liberalisation of trade in agricultural & fisheries products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The European Commission and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have agreed the text of a draft accord on further liberalisation of EU imports of agricultural products, processed agricultural and fish and fishery products. This draft has now been initialled, and both sides will now complete their internal approval procedures. The text foresees giving all agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fish and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediate duty free access to the EU market. This liberalisation will be temporary for 10 years – with a review after 5 years – and, before the end of this period, both sides will discuss the possibility of extending the arrangements. The only exception from full liberalisation is the specific duty for imports of fruit and vegetables under the entry price system that will remain applicable if these entry prices are not respected.

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 Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on further liberalisation of trade concerning agricultural products, processed agricultural, fish and fishery products. The current Interim Association Agreement already provides for duty-free access to EU markets for Palestinian industrial goods and industrial products.

The Palestinian Authority is the smallest trading partner for the EU in the Euro-Mediterranean region, with total trade amounting to € 56.6 million in 2009. The vast majority of it is accounted for by EU exports (€ 50.5 million). EU imports from the Palestinian Authority amount to just € 6.1 million in 2009 and consist mainly of agricultural products and processed agricultural products (approximately 70.1 % of total EU imports). Further opening to the EU market is expected to support the development of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through increased export performance. It is therefore appropriate to grant additional trade preferences to the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by improving access to the European Union market.

The agreement also envisages new provisions on effective administrative cooperation and assistance, in order to ensure that only Palestinian products will benefit from this specific arrangement.

In addition, the EU will complement the granting of additional trade preferences with a package of trade related technical assistance which will further help the Palestinian Authority.

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