The Coordinator of Agricultural Producer and Livestock Organizations (COAG) has submitted a formal complaint to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), claiming to have indications of the existence of an alleged fraudulent network set up to avoid the payment of customs duties on agricultural imports from Morocco. In the complaint letter, the COAG asks the OLAF to initiate investigations to verify that the competent authorities, and in particular the Spanish and French governments, are not acting in an irregular manner to the detriment of EU agricultural producers and taxpayers.
"For years, we have been asking the Ministry of Agriculture to provide us data on the collection of tariffs by the Tax Agency in Spanish ports; that is, those imposed on horticultural products from Morocco that exceed the tariff-free quota, as established in the entry price system. We are talking about customs duties that amount to around € 400 / t in the case of tomatoes. How is the payment of those fees being made? The evidence indicates that nothing is charged and, in practice, Spanish and French ports are an uncontrolled gateway for fruit and vegetables from third countries,” said Andrés Góngora, head of fruit and vegetables at COAG.
In 2007, the European Anti-Fraud Office confirmed the existence of irregularities in the import regime for Moroccan fruit and vegetable products. "Not only have these deficiencies not been corrected, but the control and regulation system has actually deteriorated after the reform of the entry price system in 2014, which facilitates non-compliance with customs payments and seriously harms the interests of the taxpayers and vegetable producers of the EU,” said Góngora.
Moroccan horticultural imports have increased by over 40%
The imports of horticultural products from Morocco have increased considerably in recent years. The European Union imported 1.4 million tons of fruit and vegetables from that country in 2019. This represents a growth of 40% compared to 2015. In terms of value, the development has been similar, with an increase of 42% between 2015 and 2019, reaching 1,805 million euros.
In the case of tomatoes, Moroccan imports to the EU have grown by more than 100,000 tons (+35%) between 2011 and 2019. For this product, in particular, non-compliance with the entry price system set in EU regulations has been denounced over years and there is no data on the customs duties paid by trading companies.
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