EU and Iran aim to intensify agricultural cooperation

The EU Commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan and the Islamic Republic of Iran's Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Mahmoud Hojjati, meeting in Tehran, welcomed the recent positive developments of the Iran-EU relations. Both confirmed their common interest in opening a new chapter in their agricultural relations, by cooperating on agriculture and rural development. They committed to enhance bilateral agri-food trade and investment and intensify exchanges at technical level. This visit of the EU Commissioner to Iran, the first ever by an EU agriculture Commissioner, accompanied by a delegation of EU business representatives of the agri-food sector, representing in total over 40 different companies and organisations across a wide range of sectors and from 20 EU member states, is a first concrete step in this process.

The two sides made reference to agriculture and other areas of cooperation included in the Joint release issued by the High Representative/Vice-President of the European Union, Federica Mogherini and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad Zarif, on 16 April 2016.

Commissioner Hogan indicated the EU commitment to cooperate with Iran on the organisation of events and meetings in areas of common interest, such as the EU's sanitary and phytosanitary system, geographical indications (where registrations by Iran would be encouraged), medicinal plants, organic farming, agriculture and rural development policy, irrigation, and to seek ways to facilitate trade in other areas of export interest to Iran, aimed at enhancing access to the EU market. Knowledge exchange is a key element of this cooperation. These initiatives could be supported as appropriate by the EU's promotion policy for agri-food products, by the Partnership Instrument or by the Better Training for Safer Food Initiative.

The EU Commission will also inform Iran about the conditions for taking part in EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020, in the field of food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime resources & the bioeconomy. A commitment was also made on speeding up the procedure for authorizing Iranian exports of ostrich products and trout from aquaculture to the EU market, and to initiate the procedure for authorizing the entry into the European Union of registered horses from Iran.

Minister Hojjati indicated from the Iranian side the commitment to cooperate with the EU on speeding up the authorisation of remaining requests of EU member states in the SPS field (beef, sheep meat, live animals, dairy, trout eggs, olive oil, feedstuffs), on further simplifying and streamlining the SPS requirements on imports of such products agreed with EU member states (via close contacts between the regulatory authorities of the two sides), and on discussing harmonized import requirements for exports from the EU. Furthermore, Minister Hojjati committed to facilitate the procedures for direct registration of EU geographical indications (GIs), and indicated the determination of Iran in joining the Union Internationale pour la Protection des Obtentions Végétales (UPOV).

Minister Hojjati and Commissioner Hogan highlighted the importance of facilitating business to business contacts between EU and Iranian agri-food companies and farm groups, with a view to develop communication channels and partnerships. In this respect the Commissioner and the Minister hailed the cooperation established between Food Drink Europe and the Iranian Federation of Food Industries during this visit.

Minister Hojjati and Commissioner Hogan instructed their officials to set up regular contacts between experts on agriculture and rural development policy, agri-food trade and other related topics, through regular expert meetings aimed at steering this cooperation and identifying further areas of work. This could take place in the framework of expert meetings on trade and investment, the next one to take place possibly in the first quarter of 2018. They agreed to meet again within a year to review progress.

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