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MEPs Vote On Duty Free Imports For Tunisian Olive Oil

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

16 March 2016


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have passed legislation to enable the European Union (EU) to import 70,000 tonnes of Tunisian olive oil duty-free over the next two years.

The emergency quota was approved by 500 votes to 107, with 42 abstentions. Rapporteur Marielle de Sarnez said: "The adoption of these emergency measures is good news for Tunisia, which is facing very serious difficulties. Increasing the zero-duty olive oil quota, without increasing total export volumes, will provide essential help for Tunisia, and is not likely to destabilize the European market. What is at stake here is the success of Tunisia's transition to democracy, which is vital not only for Tunisia but for Europeans."

The legislation provides a two-year temporary zero-duty tariff quota of 35,000 tonnes per year for olive oil imports from Tunisia. There will be no increase in the overall value of imports from Tunisia. The EU will discount duties on the olive oil that Tunisia is already being exported to the EU. Under previous trade agreements, Tunisia has a 56,700 tonne annual duty-free quota for virgin olive oil. The additional 35,000 tonne quota will apply once the regular annual quota is exhausted.

Parliament had previously requested that the scheme be reviewed after one year and that it be amended if it is found to harm the EU's olive oil producers. MEPs had also asked for a "tracking clause" obligation to ensure that all olive oil imported under the quota is obtained entirely in, and transported directly from, Tunisia. In addition, they had rejected proposals for the possible extension of the scheme beyond the initial two years. The European Council agreed to these requests, enabling Parliament to pass the legislation into law.

The text of the legislation must now be formally approved by the Council. The legislation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal, and the two co-legislators will sign it during the April plenary session.

TAGS: tax | tax incentives | law | agreements | legislation | tax rates | Tunisia | import duty | tax reform | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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