We cannot ignore that this decision is taken within a context of considerable production drop in olive oil registered in the two major producing countries, Italy and Spain.
In the coming months, therefore, we will analyze the data as soon as available to evaluate the effect of such decision.
The regulation is published in the Official Journal of the European Union January 31st, 2015 and has been applied since February 1st.
The maximum monthly quota (unfortunately the press release is in French only) for imports of Tunisian olive oil in the EU, by virtue of this decision, moves from a total of 5,000 tons to 18,000 tons (9,000 per month) for the months of February and March 2015, and then to 8,000 tons from April to October 2015.
The flexibility thus introduced will allow Tunisian operators to maximize their profit out of the tax-free contingent amount of olive oil for the EU market enjoying an excellent season.
The annual quota, however, remains unchanged. On the basis of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Tunisia, Tunisian exports of olive oil to the EU are subject to an annual quota of 56,700 tons. The management of this quota is normally limited by the maximum monthly quotas defined in Regulation (EC) No. 1918/2006.
Regulation (EC) n.1918 / 2006 (signed by Mariann Fischer Boel) provides, in fact, a tariff quota for imports into the European Community of virgin olive oil (CN codes 1509 10 10 and 1509 10 90), wholly obtained in Tunisia and transported directly from that Country into the EC. The quota sums to 56,700 tons to which it is applied to a duty of 0%. Each year, it shall be opened on January 1st. For each year, and subject to the quota referred to in paragraph import licenses are normally subjected - before this exception - to the following monthly maxima:
- 1,000 tons for each of the months of January and February,
- 4,000 tons for the month of March,
- 8,000 tons for the month of April,
- 10,000 tons for each month of the period between May and October.
The quantities not used in a given month are added to those of the following month, but not to those of the second following month.
As requested by the Tunisian Government, the EC has therefore decided to reallocate the monthly quotas to allow Tunisians operators to take full advantage of their export potential.
Olive oil, in fact, is among the major (if not the largest) voices for the Tunisian exports to the EU. The olive sector is vital for the Tunisian economy: currently, it employs both directly and indirectly more than a million people, about one fifth of the workforce employed in agriculture at the national level.
The EU Commission, in its press release, said that this decision testifies the EU's commitment to deepen its efforts to build and maintain a privileged partnership with Tunisia, a Country that constantly progresses in its path to democratization. Yet, the Commission reports that after the parliamentary and presidential elections, the EU is determined to support both politically and financially the new Tunisian authorities to pursue the necessary reforms and to consolidate the democratic attained gains and address the socio-economic challenges of the country.
See you soon!