The European Union (EU) Council of Ministers has approved detailed poultry trade agreements with Thailand and Brazil, which will tighten EU import rules, calming concerns that previous agreements were too vague and were being exploited by exporters.
The new deals are supposed to fulfill commitments made by the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow certain amounts of processed poultry meat from both countries into Europe. These promises have sparked a range of diplomatic struggles between Brussels, Brasilia and Bangkok over exactly what chicken is covered and how much, with the WTO disputes panel once stepping in to rule on the Customs classification of boneless chicken cuts. Agreements struck in 2007 were supposed to solve the difficulties, but to no avail.
A Council of Ministers communiqué explained: “Subsequent import data showed a dramatic import surge of processed poultry meat under a tariff line not part of these negotiations – exporters seeming to take advantage of a relative gap in the EU protection.” As a result, noted the council, “to comprehensively address these substitution effects affecting the EU poultry industry, the European Commission requested… authorisation to renegotiate the concessions on poultry meat with Brazil and Thailand.”
And so it has done, relating in the latest agreements, negotiated last year and now approved by EU ministers.
They include the opening of annual EU import quotas for 15,800 tonnes of Brazil-made processed chicken meat products attracting duties of €630/tonne; and 62,905 tonnes at 10.9% by value, for instance, plus some smaller import quotas. They also include annual EU import quotas for 29,600 tonnes of Thailand-made processed chicken meat products, attracting 10.9% duty by value, also among other smaller quotas for chicken products. Assuming the Thais and Brazilians complete their ratification procedures, the new agreements should be in force by the New Year.