Morocco and EU wage 'war of tomatoes'

Moroccan exports invade Europe, Europeans go to Commission

17 December, 12:50

    Tomatoes from Morocco 'flood' the Eu Tomatoes from Morocco 'flood' the Eu

    (ANSAmed) - RABAT, DECEMBER 17 - Morocco and Europe have waged a ''war of tomatoes''. Rabat has ''flooded'' the European market with exports exceeding 50% of last year's volume and Spanish, French and Italian producers are trying to form a united front against it and appealing to the European Commission.

    The alarm was first raised in Marseille where the market of Saint-Charles, the main doorstep to food products in Europe, registered a 66% increase in imports in October and a 55% increase in November, alarming producers in the Old Continent.

    Spanish, French and Italian producers under the Fepex group denounced the ''chaos in Moroccan exports disrupting the union's market with disastrous consequences, in particular for the three countries''.

    Across the Mediterranean area, the legal war of tomatoes has been waged for years. The last agreement dates back to last spring. But constant squabbles with Morocco can emerge from the bloc's farming policies until 2020.

    The kingdom of Mohammed VI is the fifth exporter of tomatoes worldwide. Tomato exports represent 53% of overall exports in the agricultural sector with an annual average of 450,000 tons, at least until 2013, for a turnover of 3,500 million dirham, almost 315 million euros. The sum represents 11% of the total value of food exports. And the European market absorbs 85% of exports of tomatoes, especially the round type, which mostly arrive in France and Spain, and slightly less in Italy. A system of quotas, forfeit import values and exemptions from custom duties regulates prices though the balance is precarious.

    The protocol of agreement between Europe and Morocco provides for Europe to intervene when Moroccan imports exceed average levels so as not to disturb the market and damage the sector, as is the case now, according to European producers. (ANSAmed)

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved