Study confirms benefits of EU agri-food trade agreements

Trade agreements have helped to boost EU agricultural exports and have supported jobs in the agri-food sector and other parts of the economy, according to a new ‘independent’ study carried out on behalf of the European Commission.

Agreements with three countries – Mexico, South Korea and Switzerland – were studied in detail.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan said, “These three agreements alone have increased EU agri-food exports by more than €1 billion and have raised value-added in the agri-food sector by €600 million.

“Just as importantly, this increase in exports has supported thousands of jobs across the EU, most of which are in the agri-food sector, including primary agriculture.

These figures are clear evidence that ambitious and balanced trade deals work for European food and farming.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Trade deals, done right, are a force for good for our farmers and food producers. This study also provides important input on how we can continue to cut unnecessary red tape and get rid of barriers in our trade negotiations going forward.”

The study indicates that the agreements contributed to increased trade in both directions, with increased EU exports and increased imports of products from these three countries. In turn, this is said to give EU consumers and businesses greater access to agri-food products.

The study also suggests that these increased imports have little impact on domestic EU production. Instead, the study finds that they mainly involve the replacement of imports from other third countries or an increase in EU consumption.

Specific trade agreements

Specifically, in relation to the three agreements, the study indicates that the deal between the EU and Mexico added €105 million to EU agri-food exports in 2013. This was reportedly three years after both sides had removed all of the trade barriers that they committed to remove, as part of the agreement. Most of these exports were processed food and beverages.

Additional imports of €316 million, in the same year, were mostly primary products. The study also identifies potential for the EU agri-sector in further eliminating tariffs and barriers. This is now being tackled in the negotiations to modernise the EU-Mexico agreement.

Although not yet fully implemented, the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) reportedly added €439 million in additional EU agri-food exports in 2015 (the latest year for which data is available), mostly in the form of primary products and commodities.

Additional imports of €116 million, in the same year, were mostly processed food and beverages.

The EU-Switzerland trade agreements on agricultural products and processed agricultural products together added €532 million to EU agri-food exports in 2010, three years after they were fully implemented.

Most of this was in the form of processed food and beverages. Additional imports of €1.17 million were mostly in the form of primary products.