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Region: tropical products for Europe

Monday, August 5, 2013

Regional producers of tropical fruit juices are among the main beneficiaries of the entry into force last August 1 of an association agreement between the European Union on one hand, and Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama on the other.

Preferential access for El Salvador and Guatemala is expected soon to follow.

Bottled or canned juices currently face customs duties of 23%, when they are imported into the EU.

Other processed foods, along with several kinds of fresh fruits, including melons, will also become more competitive, with the elimination over the next few years of duties and other barriers to trade.

Several fresh products, including coffee, banana and pineapple, already have preferential access to the EU market, with total purchasing power estimated at $14 trillion this year.

Despite expectations that the accord would enter into force last week with Costa Rica as well, the EU at the last moment withheld approval, following a complaint by Italy, which says that European rules for the protection of intellectual are being infringed by five Costa Rican cheese producers, who make their own version of Parmesan, Gorgonzola and Fontina.

Italy claims that these names – like Champage - are reserved for products, which are made in the region, from which the name originates.

Given that Costa Rican producers have for several decades used these names without objection from anyone, it could take time to resolve the issue.