Save Italian rice, stop imports to curb the crisis

0
6

Save Italian and European rice, with a drastic curb on cheap imports from non-EU countries. This is what the agriculture ministers of eight member state governments are asking the European Commission.

The appeal was signed on July 17, 2017 by representatives of Italy, Europe’s leading rice producer, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.

Stop rice imports

The paper asks the commission for four actions. First, a cap on low-cost imports, the cause of proclaimed damage to European production.

According to the Rice Board, since 2009-during the liberalization of imports from Least Developed Countries (LDCs)-rice imports have grown by 65 percent, reaching a record volume of 1.34 million tons in the 2015/2016 marketing year. As a result, European rice remains in warehouses. Stocks are now estimated at 586,000 tons, accounting for 30 percent of EU production.

To curb the invasion of non-EU rice, the 8 governments ask the European Commission to

Activate the safeguard clause on imports fromEverything But Arms (EBA) countries. (1) And consider removing constraints that limit the application of safeguard measures for imports from LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and other origins in the Generalized System of Preferences,

Recognize the specificity of the sector in the new CAP, Common Agricultural Policy.

The social and environmental harms of non-EU rice

The eight governments’ request to the European Commission also lingers over the fate of the people and territories where the rice comes from.

Unlike other notoriously unsustainable and even massively imported non-EU productions, such as palm oil, the question is raised for rice.

Brussels is therefore asked to‘deepen studies to assess the effects that these systems concerning LDCs and Generalized Preference Systems have had on social and workers’ rights in EBA countries, as well as the environmental consequences of local production systems.’

Rice, the choice of provenance entrusted to consumers

The last measure called for to save European rice is the adoption of a transparent label, complete with the origin of the raw material. So that consumers can make the informed choice of Made in Europe rice, even better if it is Made in Italy. A request already made by the Italian government-though confusingly-in line with consumers’ marked preference for Made in Italy foods.

 

Notes

(1) The Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative grants duty-free and quota-free access for all products except arms and ammunition to least developed countries (LDCs). With the reform, it became more focused on 49 least developed countries that benefit from the EBA scheme for an unlimited period. Of these, 33 are African countries, 10 are Asian countries, 5 are countries in the Pacific region, and the last one is in the Caribbean (Haiti). On trade regimes applicable by the EU to developing countries see

See http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/it/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_6.2.3.html#_ftn5