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Few products from developing countries make it to the EU markets

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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Few products from developing countries make it to the EU markets

High import duties keep products from developing countries out of Europe. One particular problem is tariff escalation: Import tariffs increase the more processed a product becomes. This measure ensures that most imports to the EU are raw products like coffee, cocoa or pineapples which cannot be cultivated in Europe. While the import duties for unprocessed cocoa beans is rather small, the EU charges 30% for processed cocoa products like chocolate bars or cocoa powder, and 60% for some other refined products containing cocoa. In some cases, tariffs can reach up to 146%, for instance for some canned tropical fruit specialties, says Francisco Mari, an expert on agriculture and fishies at the German protestant development service, EED. "If Arabica coffee would be roasted in Africa, the import tariffs would be 100 or 120%", Mari said.This practise prevents competition from threatening European coffee roasting companies. The second problems is posed by the strict EU standards for imported food products, including hygiene and health standards as well as regulations for size, form and colour of a certain product. While the regulations are supposed to protect European consumers, they can have devastating impacts on small farmers in export countries. In Morocco for instance, 40% of the tomato crop that is cultivated to be exported to Europe does not fit the European standards. So, instead of being shipped abroad, the tomatoes are sold cheaply on Moroccan markets. Small local farmers have a hard time competing with the cheap produce and struggle to survive.

Source: Deutsche Welle