Globalisation is having every year a more important impact on trade. In the modern global economy trade is essential for growth, jobs and competiveness. The European potato sector should position itself to keep pace of worldwide evolving consumer demands and to open up new markets.
Potatoes are traded mainly on the EU internal market, however the sector shows also a competi- tive edge in international markets, especially in the sub-sectors of seed potatoes and processed products. The European Union is one of the world’s most open markets, with low external tariffs and a borderless single market. But for open trade to deliver its full range of benefits, it must be a two-way street. Europatat advocates that favourable trade environment should be built on the basis of fair and reciprocal trade opportunities both for import and export.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)
The international Free Trade Agreements that the European Union has entered with 3rd countries are an opportunity to open new markets for exporters, providing them access to foreign markets on the same terms as the EU offers.
During the last 12 months, trade negotiation processes between EU and third countries have included: US, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
Europatat welcomes the European Commission’s initiatives to promote free trade through the establishment of a network of bilateral and regional free trade agreements. Yet liberalisation must come by the hand with real market access. Non-tariff measures (NTMs) – those related to laws, regulations and requirements such as sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT) and customs procedures – can reduce or at the least increase trade costs.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements
The EU has also concluded a series of trade agreements regarding sanitary and phytosanitary measures with single countries or groups of countries from outside the EU. International SPS measures are based on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) SPS Agreement, international standards and recommendations or guidelines.
Europatat plays an important role in defending the potato sector interest when confronted to SPS issues and to promote an open market access. Notwithstanding the political nature of certain dossiers, Europatat supports members in defending the market at the European level.
A number of markets have been in the agenda of Europatat in the last 12-month period, as for example Russia, Belarus, Egypt or Algeria.
Regular participation in DG TRADE’s Civil Society Dialogue meetings and DG Trade’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary working groups allows Europatat to put forward the views of potato trade in ongoing trade negotiations and market access opportunities.
Digitalisation of procedures and certifications
Besides collaboration with the European Commission on the development of phytosanitary certificates and the Integrated Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC), 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 fa- cilitate efficient and effective trade flows.