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"Uncontrolled imports from Morocco and EU policy threaten European tomato production"

"The uncontrolled growth of tomato imports from Morocco and the Community's policies regarding plant health and packaging, derived from the Farm to Table strategy, threaten Community tomato production, which follows a decreasing trend in its production and foreign trade," concluded the French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish Tomato Contact Group that met on May 4 and 5 in Piré-Chancé, near Rennes.

"EU tomato imports from Morocco have gone from 365,695 tons in 2013 -the first year after the entry into force of the Association Agreement between the EU and Morocco, which provided for a preferential quota of 285,000 tons- to 557,225 tons in 2022, a volume that would increase to 701,541 tons if the United Kingdom is included. The UK market portrays Community production's loss of competitiveness most clearly. In the same period, Spanish tomato exports to the United Kingdom have fallen from 143,182 tons to 70,780 tons," according to data from the United Nations Statistics Division presented by FEPEX at the meeting.

In addition to the increase in tomato imports from Morocco, the group concluded that the Community policies regarding phytosanitary products and packaging harms Community production, so they agreed to request the withdrawal of the proposals for regulations on the sustainable use of phytosanitary products and that of packaging and packaging waste that the European Commission has presented. These proposals should be withdrawn because of their negative impact on the sustainability of crops and their negative impact on marketing, as they won't allow, de facto, differentiating the Community production from the imported products, they stated.

The group also agreed to ask the European Commission for extraordinary aid of up to 10% of the value of the marketed tomato production of producer organizations "to compensate for the damage caused, on the one hand, by the negligence in the application of the cooperation and safeguard clauses of the EU Association Agreement with Morocco and, on the other hand, by the application of the tariff concessions of the Agreement to the productions of Western Sahara, which is becoming the main tomato exporting area of this country."

The Tomato Contact Group also analyzed the forecasts for the summer season, which shows a 5% downward trend for all countries, mainly due to lower yields.


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