Friday, January 30, 2009

Australian hopes on reducing EU tariffs and subsidies dive

The statement ‘My first duty is to support European farmers’ by the European Union Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, reported in the Weekly Times is cold comfort for Australian olive oil producers. While not directly referring to olive oil production, it represents a hardening of policies against free trade across the globe as politicians respond to pressure to reverse their slowing economies.

This attitude, as well as the relatively small quantity of oil produced in Australia (less than 1% of world production), would suggest that continuing approaches to the EU to remove imports tariffs and export subsidies for olive oil would be futile until the current financial situation has improved.

The money that supports this lobbying could be better spent on consolidating and expanding the Australian industry, increasing consumption of local product and replacing imports of all classifications of olive oil.

The investment in the promotion of Australian EVOO should be based on its meeting international trade standards and being competitively priced against imports and other competing vegetable oils such as canola.

Simon Field