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Food industry

International aspects

The foreign trade regime for Processed Agricultural Products (Non-Annex I goods) consists of trade arrangements governing the import (i.a. import duties) on the one hand and rules governing the payment of export refunds on the other hand. The import duties are generally based on an industrial (ad valorem duty) and on an agricultural element. Some products, e.g. spirits, processed fruit and vegetables, pectic substances, tobacco products, bear only ad valorem duties or specific duties. Several particular regimes apply for different other products. Export refunds are paid for the basic products used (dairy products, sugar, eggs, cereals and rice) and exported in the form of processed products.

With regard to trade in food, tariff and non-tariff barriers to third country market access have a negative impact on EU industrial competitiveness.

Non-tariff barriers are restrictions to imports that do not take the form of a tariff rate. They are a result of discrepancies in food legislation from one country to another. Examples of where legislation can diverge are labelling requirements, residue limits and test result recognition.

To gain barrier-free market access to foreign countries, DG Enterprise and Industry encourages tariff liberalisation and promotes:

  • regulatory measures for convergence with trade partners through the development of international standardisation rules (e.g. Codex Alimentarius Standards, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). This helps reduce the cost of complying with third countries' regulations;
  • agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These agreements were developed to eliminate existing barriers and to prevent the emergence of new ones;
  • bilateral agreements with third countries aiming at the mutual recognition of parties’ sanitary and phytosanitary rules and food legislation in general.

Moreover, the Commission encourages international business dialogue and makes funding available for measures in non-EU country markets in order to promote agricultural and food products of EU origin.

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