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Food industry

International aspects

The foreign trade regime for the core Non-Annex I products consists of import duties on the one hand and export refunds on the other hand. The import duties are based on an industrial and an agricultural element. Export refunds are generally paid for the used basic products milk, sugar, eggs, cereals and rice. Other products, e.g. spirits, processed fruit and vegetables, pectic substances, tobacco products… bear ad valorem duties. Several particular regimes apply for different other products.

With regard to food trade, 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 usual form of a tariff. They are a result of food legislation discrepancies from one country to another. Examples of where legislation can diverge include: labelling requirements; residue limits; test result recognition.

To gain barrier-free market access to foreign countries, DG Enterprise and Industry encourages tariff liberalisation and makes use of the following:

  • regulatory measures for convergence with trade partners and international standardisation promotion (e.g. Codex Alimentarius Standards, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). This helps reduce the cost of complying with non-EU country regulations;
  • agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These agreements are being developed to eliminate existing barriers and to prevent the emergence of new ones.
  • in order to ensure a coherent food industry policy, the European Union has signed bilateral agreements with third countries.

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

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