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The tuna sector pushes for a trade agreement between Ecuador and the EU

16 December 2012

The EU tuna-canning sector supports the rapid signing of a trade agreement between the EU and Ecuador, the leading supplier of tuna loins to the EU and the second largest supplier of canned tuna to EU markets – Ecuador has now become the main supplier of canned tuna for the German market, with more than 60,000 tonnes in 2011.

At a meeting organised by Ecuador’s tuna industry, participants concluded that it was necessary to resume negotiations rapidly, after Ecuador was granted an extra year to benefit from the GSP+ scheme, which allows it to export its products with no duty until the end of 2013.

The parties met earlier in 2012 to negotiate, but no agreement was reached. A failure to reach an agreement would be a ‘devastating blow to the Spanish investors in Ecuador’, as it would see the 24% duty applied to pre-cooked tuna loins and the canned tuna that supply Spanish canneries.

A European Parliament study published in October 2012 concerning the impact of the global sourcing derogation for Papua New Guinea, highlighted that Ecuador was one of the main competitors for PNG tuna products, with lower production costs. Should Ecuador stop benefiting from free access to EU markets for its tuna products, the competitiveness of PNG tuna might increase.

Editorial comment

The outcome of the trade negotiations with Ecuador – a key partner in the EU’s tuna trade – particularly in terms of the tariffs that will be applied to the various tuna products, is of key importance to all ACP tuna-exporting countries. It will determine how much ACP preferences will be eroded by the conditions applying to Ecuador’s tuna products and thus impact on the competitiveness of ACP tuna-exporting countries. 

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