Import levies and quotas to protect the EU poultry meat sector are a necessary tool to compensate unfair competition from third countries, an independent study says.
a.v.e.c., representing the European poultry meat sector, has commissioned Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) to conduct a study on the competitiveness of EU poultry. The report analyses the differences in production costs and how lower import levies between the European Union and third countries will impact the competitiveness of the European poultry meat sector.
The conclusion is clear: quotas and import levies protect the EU from third country imports whose legislation or production standards do not meet the requirements or expectations of our consumers. With EU bird welfare standards increasing, it is essential to guarantee a fair competition between EU and third countries. Further market access or lower import levies granted to countries that do not meet our standards will continue to weaken the competitive position of the EU poultry meat industry and will put at risk a sector employing more than 300,000 EU citizens.
In 2012 the production of poultry meat in EU-27 was almost 13 million tons, of which 77% was broiler meat, 15% turkey and 4% duck. The total value of the production in 2012 was € 32 bn. The EU is an important player in international trade of poultry meat. In 2012 the EU exported 1,43 million tons poultry meat with a value of €2,064 billion (average €144 per 100 kg), while it imported 0,844 million tons with a value of €2,202 billion (average €261 per 100 kg).
The EU poultry meat producers work to high standards of legislation on environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety. Where these same high standards are not imposed on imported poultry meat there is a distortion of cost to the detriment of EU businesses. As a result it costs on average 166 eurocents per kg of carcass weight to produce poultry in the EU. By comparison, Argentina is only 71% of that total, with Brazil (72%), Ukraine (77%), USA (80%), Thailand (84%), and Russia (92%) following closely behind.
The EU is a large importer of poultry meat, mainly boneless breast meat. Today, the large majority of imports is under a quota license system with firmly reduced or no import duties. Changes in the existing situation will impact the competitiveness of the EU poultry meat. A scenario with a 50% reduction shows that Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Thailand may offer breast meat at a lower price than the EU producers can. A worst case scenario would be a combination of 50% lower basic import levy and a 10% lower exchange rate which would enable all third countries in the study to offer boneless breast meat at a lower price than EU producers.
Therefore, it is a.v.e.c.'s opinion that a commitment in a trade agreement is fair and justified if there is a right balance between import levies and the difference in legal standards for EU and non-EU poultry.
The study is available on a.v.e.c.'s website.