The National Garlic Board and the National Association of Garlic Producers and Marketers (ANPCA) have sent letters to Castile-La Mancha’s councillor of Agriculture, María Luisa Soriano; Spain’s permanent representatives to the EU; the Secretary of Commerce; the General Secretary of MAGRAMA and the Fruit and Vegetables Unit of the European Commission, to denounce and condemn the agreement signed between the EU and China, which will add another 12,375 tonnes of garlic to the tariff quota assigned to China, approved without knowledge or consent from the garlic sector.
The agreement has been adopted as compensation for Bulgaria and Romania’s joining of the EU in 2007, which in practice entailed a 21% increase with regard to the existing 58,870 tonne total quota, and a 36% increase with regard to the 33,700 tonne quota assigned to China. The agreement does not take proportion into consideration, taking into account, for instance, that these two countries represent 6% of the EU’s 495 million inhabitants.
Indignation in the Spanish garlic sector
Spanish garlic professionals have shown their discontent against this measure, not only because of it being negotiated without regard for the country’s interests, but also because of it posing a significant threat to the sector’s socio-economic stability and subsistence.
Both associations point out that during the reference period between 2002 and 2004, used to calculate compensations, an abnormal increase in China’s garlic import volumes from Bulgaria and Romania can be observed. This is perceived as a “strategy to artificially inflate the statistics and obtain higher tariff quota access references.”
After Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, trade flows normalised and returned to 2001’s figures. In both countries, the average imports registered between 2004 and 2007 are 300% higher than normal.
The sector also made a call for awareness regarding any future pacts and agreements that could arise from the joining of new states to the EU, such as Croatia. In this sense, the sector demands for its opinions to be taken into account.