Tunisia: EC launches consultation on reform of association agreement

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    The European Commission has launched a public consultation to allow all interested parties to submit their views regarding the reform of the current association agreement with Tunisia, which will end on 22 February. The initial texts for the negotiation of a free trade agreement are divided into 11 areas, including one devoted to agricultural products.

    According to the basic document of the EU proposal on the trade of agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fishery products, the main points to be negotiated are:

    1. The list of sensitive products.

    2. The treatment of sensitive products (for example, the setting up of tariff quotas).

    3. The volumes under tariff quotas for sensitive products.

    4. The decommissioning schedules, the transition periods for Tunisia and the increase rate of the tariff quotas.

    5. The adjustment to the entry price regime.

    The agricultural trade chapter of the proposal from the European Commission also includes other points, such as:

    1. Negative list. “With regard to the liberalization of customs duties on agricultural products, fishery products, agricultural products and processed products, the two parties declare their willingness to ensure a substantial liberalization, with a few exceptions on each side. To increase transparency in such liberalization processes, a “negative list” will be applied. This list will only cover non-liberalized sensitive products, which need specific treatment.”

    2. Non-tariff measures. The two parties agree to negotiate non-tariff measures in the agro-food sector; i.e. sanitary and phytosanitary measures, as well as technical barriers to trade.

    The Spanish export of fresh fruits and vegetables to Tunisia in 2015 amounted to 4,933 tons worth 3.8 million Euro, according to data from the Customs and Special Taxes Department of the Tax Agency, processed by FEPEX. The main products exported by Spain are onion and garlic. The export of onions in 2015 stood at 2,861 tons worth 666,495 Euro and garlic shipments totaled 1,988 tons worth 2.9 million Euro.

    The growth of Spanish fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Tunisia has been remarkable in the last five years, going from 845 tons in 2011 to 4,933 tons in 2015. Meanwhile, the value has increased from EUR 1.2 million in 2011 to EUR 3.8 million in 2015.

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