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INTA backs increase of zero-duty olive oil quota for Tunisia – in brief

The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) backed on 25 January with 31 to 7 votes and 1 abstention the Commission’s 2015 proposal temporarily extending an annual duty free tariff rate quota for Tunisian olive oil. However, due to concerns expressed by MEPs from Italy and Spain – the two biggest producers of olive oil in the EU- INTA asked for a mid-term review.

“If we see that there is a problem, the European Commission would be able to rectify its decision,” Marielle de Sarnes, rapporteur on the Commission’s proposal said, describing INTA’s support for the emergency measures as a “key political message of support for Tunisia.”

Under the proposal, Tunisia’s annual duty free tariff rate quota for olive oil would increase as of 1 January 2016 by 35 000 tonnes. Currently Tunisian olive oil producers are allowed to export to the EU, using the above-mentioned quota system, 56 700 tonnes annually.

The additional quota will be made available for a period of two years, until 31 December 2017 and it will be opened once the existing duty free tariff rate quota of 56 700 tonnes is exhausted.

Putting forward its proposal in September last year, the Commission stressed it would benefit the Tunisian economy, which was severely hit in 2015 because of terrorist attacks. Olive oil is Tunisia’s biggest agricultural export product.

A vote at the European Parliament’s plenary is foreseen for February in Strasbourg.