Croatia has change of heart on higher import tariffs

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Croatia’s Agriculture Ministry on Thursday decided to repeal its measure of a 2,000 kuna (€270) fee for the inspection of imported fruit and vegetables from non-European Union countries, and the rate, which will be in force as of Friday, will again be 90 kuna (€12).

The latest developments ensued after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday that he had instructed Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic to find a solution that will eliminate the problem in connection with increased inspection fees for fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries, Hina news agency reported.

The instruction was made amid increasing discontent inn Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which claimed that their economies were affected by Croatia’s higher phytosanitary inspection fee for fruit and vegetable imports from them, threatening to take counter-measures.

Zagreb has insisted that the higher fee regulations, which were adopted in mid-July, refer to all third countries and do not intend to be discriminatory against agricultural produce from Croatia’s neighbours.

This past Tuesday, the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture stated that, at the urging of Croatian farmers and agricultural produce manufacturers, Minister Tolusic had adopted the decision on a 2,000 kuna fee for phytosanitary inspection in a bid to protect Croatian consumers.

The chamber recalls that the EU forbids member-states to use a number of pesticides whereas those substances are allowed in many third countries.

The chamber recalls that local producers in Croatia and in other European Union member-states must meet high EU standards and their products are strictly tested, which makes production more expensive.

The Croatian agriculture ministry said in a press release on Thursday that the protection of consumers would be its top priority and it added that it expected a meeting in the near future with officials of the neighbouring countries on the topic of the use of agrochemicals which are no longer allowed in the European Union so as to help agricultural producers in the neighbouring non-EU countries to adjust their practice to EU rules as soon as possible.

Furthermore, inspection fees in the neighbourhood will be further analysed “so that we will make sure that consumers and the competitive status of agricultural producers are protected in a way that will not disturb trade”.

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