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EU To Import Tunisian Olive Oil Duty-Free

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

27 January 2016

The European Parliament's Trade Committee has backed a proposed emergency measure to import 77,160 tons of olive oil from Tunisia duty-free, to help boost the struggling Tunisian economy.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) supported the European Commission's proposed exceptional measure by 31 votes to seven, with one abstention.

If the full Parliament endorses the measure, a two-year temporary zero-duty tariff quota of 38,580 tons per year for European Union (EU) olive oil imports from Tunisia would be available from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2017. The committee also called for a mid-term assessment, which would require the Commission to review the impact on the EU olive oil market after one year and take any corrective measures required.

There would be no increase in the overall volume of imports from Tunisia, and the EU would discount duties from the olive oil Tunisia is already exporting to the EU. Olive oil is Tunisia's main agricultural export and the sector accounts for one-fifth of agricultural jobs.

Parliamentary rapporteur Marielle de Sarnez said: "At a time when Tunisia is facing very serious problems, our vote gives the right signal: that the EU stands alongside Tunisians and that we intend to exercise solidarity in a tangible way. I know that for some countries, the question of olive oil is a sensitive one. I want to reassure them that the amendment we adopted provides that, if after a year we realize that there is indeed a problem, the Commission may then take steps to rectify the imbalance."

TAGS: tax | European Commission | tariffs | food | tax rates | Tunisia | tax reform | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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