EU/WTO INTERNATIONAL REGULATORY ROUND UP – EU BOOSTS FOOD MARKETING BUDGETJanuary 9th, 2017
BY KEITH NUTHALL
EUROPEAN Union (EU) food exporters will in 2017 be offered an increased amount of money by the European Commission to better promote their products, especially in non-EU markets. The Commission has said that EUR133 million will be available this year to co-finance at 70%-85% such marketing campaigns, compared to EUR111 million in 2016. Target markets will include China, the Middle East, north America, south-east Asia and Japan. The financing will especially focus on EU promoting food quality schemes, products from remoter EU regions, organic lines and sectors hit by European market difficulties, such as dairy, pigmeat and beef. More details – see https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/promotion/annual-work-programmes/2017_en
*A EUR1.2 million EU-funded research project has developed a database helping food manufacturers assess whether products that contain fermented foods, such as bread and yoghurt, have healthy or risky microorganisms. The GENOBOX project has created IT infrastructure and algorithms disseminated via a website enabling genomic sequences of microorganisms to be analysed quickly, simply, interactively. The system can identify functionality traits, including yield, probiotic properties, safety, and production of flavour compounds. It enables work to be produced “at a fraction of the costs it would normally take,” said project coordinator Wynand Alkema. http://www.genobox.eu/ns/
*EU and American diplomats and officials are lobbying to prevent the implementation of a draft Chinese regulation that would from this October require all food imports to carry health certificates. This would cover low-risk products, and not just perishable goods such as meat and dairy items, that are usually covered by such rules. If the law comes into force, a World Trade Organisation (WTO) could be expected, with Brussels and Washington arguing that such health-based restrictions are not justified by science.
*The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) has drafted plans to offer EUR50 million in debt financing to Kazakhstan confectionery manufacturer Hamle Company Ltd to underpin its investment programme into new machinery and related capital expenditures. The company is owned by Turkish food conglomerate Yildiz Holding.
*A WTO disputes panel has rejected most claims made by Indonesia that the EU has broken global trading rules when imposing anti-dumping duties on Indonesian exports into Europe of fatty alcohols, which are used as food ingredients. See https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/442r_e.pdf
*Another WTO panel has found that Indonesia is breaking global trading rules though overly tough import licensing procedures for meat products. The claim was bought by the USA and New Zealand. Indonesia argued that its controls were designed to protect the integrity of its halal market and consumer health, but the panel has largely agreed with Washington and Wellington that these rules are illegal protective trade barriers, which should be liberalised. See https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news16_e/477_478r_e.htm
*The EU Council of Ministers has again (in December) failed to strike an agreement on a proposed new EU organic regulation, which would create revised pan-EU rules on organic food production and certification.
*The rice working party of EU food producer association Copa-Cogeca has warned that increasing duty-free imports of rice, mainly from Cambodia and Myanmar under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) trade facility for least developed countries, is damaging the business of European rice growers. Its chairman said: “Duty-free imports have been flooding into the EU since 2013,” depressing prices.
*EFSA’s panel on plant protection products and their residues is to review guidance on defining pesticide residues, assessed to ensure foods are not so seriously contaminated that consumer health is threatened. See http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4549
*Meanwhile, EFSA’s panel on food additives and nutrient sources added to food has concluded following a review that food additive agar (E 406) is safe at current usage levels. It is a thickening agent and stabiliser. Indeed, the panel ruled that there was no need for formal EFSA-sanctioned acceptable daily intake (ADI) limiting its use. See http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4645