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EU reclassifies low import duty regime for beef importers

By Keith Nuthall , 06-Nov-2012

Related topics: Industry & Markets, Financial, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden, EU, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, India, China, Thailand

The European Commission has confirmed that key beef exporters Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay will be excluded from the European Union’s future GSP low import duty regime for emerging markets, as they are now too rich to benefit.

Brussels has released a list of countries that will qualify for this special status and the Brazilians, Argentines and Uruguayans are not included, along with middle-income countries such as Venezuela, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and others. EU duties charged on many of their exports will rise as a result from 1 January, 2014.

A Commission note said: “Some limited drops in exports (typically in the 1% range) are expected for many of these partners.” However, it added that this could be significant where trade was large – for instance with Brazil, which exported US$161m-worth of bovine meat to Italy in 2011, US$142m to the Netherlands, US$79m, and US$33n to Spain, according to UN figures.

Across the EU, European Commission statistics reveal that all member states imported €450m-worth of beef from Brazil in 2011. As for Argentina, the EU imported €458m-worth of beef last year – although about half the volume of Brazil, at 60.8 kilo tonnes compared to Brazil’s 100.7 kilo tonnes. Meanwhile, from Uruguay, the EU imported €272m-worth of beef in 2011, or 50.7 kilo tonnes.

For those poorer countries left inside the GSP system, the Commission announced a string of products and inputs that would henceforth be imported duty free into the EU. This includes widely-used meat preservative and colouring additive sodium nitrate. It is found in bacon, sausages, hot dogs, ham, smoked meats, patés and more. And this input is bought in major volumes; in 2011, the EU imported US$55.9m-worth from all sources in packs weighing more than 10kg, says UN data. Artificial sodium nitrate currently attracts a 6.5% duty when imported into the EU from many countries, including those that will continue to be covered by the GSP regime after January 2014.

The Commission note said: “The new scheme will be focused on fewer beneficiaries (89 countries) to ensure more impact on countries most in need.” That will include China, India, Vietnam, Thailand and many sub-Saharan African countries. If the newly excluded countries suffer recessions, they might be re-admitted, stressed the Commission.

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