A favourable trade environment should be built on the basis of fair and reciprocal trade opportunities both for import and export. Potatoes are traded mainly on the EU internal market, however the sector shows also a competitive edge in international markets, especially in the sub-sectors of seed potatoes and processed products.
As long as a global trade agreement by WTO is not achieved, bilateral trade relations between the EU and certain regions or third countries are of high importance.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
The European Commission priority is to deliver on the Trade for All Strategy: The EU has reached a political agreement with Japan, and is about make the EU-Canada agreement effective.
The Commission continues negotiating with many partners, notably Mexico and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay); and is advancing negotiations with Australia and New Zealand once the Council will have approved the mandates recommended by the Commission. Also delivering on the Global Strategy: Including an EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia; a renewed partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean; and new frameworks for engagement with India, Iran and Iraq.
Europatat welcomes the European Commission’s initiatives to promote free trade through the establishment of a network of bilateral and regional free trade agreements.
Since March 2014, the EU and Russia have progressively imposed restrictive measures. With regards to potato exports to Russia, the numerous efforts to harmonise at the EU level the modalities for exports to take place after the embargo have so far been unsuccessful. This lack of progress, together with the fact that the import ban is seen as mostly political in nature, has led to continue talks on a bilateral level between the various Member States and Rosselkhoznadzor (the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance).
EU seed potato exports are currently taking place under a somewhat unpredictable and burdensome system. While prospects for ware potato exports to Russia remain bleak.
Regular participation in DG TRADE’s Civil Society Dia¬logue meetings allows Europatat to put forward the views of potato trade in ongoing trade negotiations. With regard to market access opportunities, the Europa¬tat secretariat regularly takes part in DG Trade’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary working groups. While exports of seed and ware potatoes are subject to bilateral agreements between the individual EU member states and third countries, Europatat tries to facilitate coordination at EU-level where appropriate.
Digitalisation of procedures and certifications
European exporters and importers are responsible for 22% of world trade. Simple, modern and harmonised customs-procedures are crucial to making international trade as efficient as possible. There is an ongoing pilot from the European Commission on phytosanitary certificates, and in addition, an Integrated Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC) will integrate all existing (and future) computer systems, e.g. TRACES, RASFF and Europhyt to ensure optimal use of data, reduce burdens on businesses and national enforcers and acceler¬ate the exchange of information between Member States.
Europatat is a member of the ePhyto Industry Advisory Group (IAG) directly involved in the development of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto (electronic phytosanitary certification) Solution. The IAG has been established to provide practical guidance and advice to the IPPC Secretariat on the design, development and deployment of an ePhyto Solution which consists of a global hub and generic national system to facilitate the international exchange of electronic phytosanitary information by developing countries.
The IAG will also advise the IPPC Secretariat on the feasibility of the project and its ability to facilitate efficient and effective trade flows. The IAG meets twice per year or by electronic communication.