New EU import rules for tomatoes will take into account different varieties rather than just standard round tomatoes when it comes to calculating customs rates.
The changes are part of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform and are expected to create more transparency in the system for European producers and importers, following claims of system “abuse”.
The European Commission announced this week that new rules regarding customs valuations, due to come into operation in October, will now include an update on the standard import value of tomatoes (SIV). SIVs are per 100 kg net and change daily.
Historically tomato imports have been composed of standard round tomatoes, but the EC said this has evolved and now includes a much broader selection of speciality varieties, generally of higher value.
“It is therefore necessary to factor into the standard import value of tomatoes the weighted average value of such speciality varieties, in line with EU provisions, on the basis of volumes imported into the EU,” the EC said.
“The result should be a system which is transparent, objective and fair to all – both our own producers and key partners such as Morocco, which has raised concerns about the operation of the new SIV system.”
Fresh tomatoes are the main agricultural export product of Morocco, which in turn is the main exporting country of tomatoes to the EU, with a share of about 80 per cent.
EU tomato imports from Morocco are expected to reach some 400,000 tonnes in 2014-2015 and around 20 per cent of the tomato imports are cherry, which have a higher value than standard ones.
Among EU members, Spain and the Netherlands are the main exporters of tomatoes.
The EU protects EU growers of fresh fruits and vegetables against international competition by the entry price system. SIV is one method that fruit and vegetable importers can choose to declare the entry price.
The system faced criticism that it was allowing importers to avoid some import duties that would otherwise be due.
European tomato growers in particular had called on the EU to reform the entry price system due to concerns over non-payment of customs duties, which disadvantaged market prices obtained by EU producers.
Copa-Cogeca, which represents farmers and their cooperatives in the EU, said that the system for tomatoes that governed fruit and vegetables imports to the EU had been open to “fraud and abuse”.
The EC states that the new “more robust” rules should “reassure European producers and importers of fruit and vegetables that customs duty collection with respect to third country imports will henceforth occur objectively and transparently”.
CAP Reform (CMO legislation) will be operational from October 1st.