Moldova will be able to export up to 40,000 tonnes of fresh apples, 10,000 tonnes of fresh table grapes and 10,000 tonnes of fresh plums to the EU duty free, thanks to a proposal backed by Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday (16 December).
According to MEPs, the move should compensate Moldova's producers for their losses due to what they described as Russia’s politically-motivated ban on imports of Moldovan produce.
MEPs approved the concession by 551 votes to 67, with 23 abstentions.
As a result, Moldova will be able to import, duty-free, 40,000 tonnes of fresh apples (equal to 0.4 per cent of EU output), 10,000 tonnes of fresh table grapes (= 0.6 per cent of EU output), and 10,000 tonnes of fresh plums (= 0.7 per cent of EU output).
According to the European Parliament news release, the majority of these imports are likely to go to Romania.
"The importance of the regulation approved today goes far beyond some quantities of apples, grapes and plums," said rapporteur Sorin Moisa after the vote. "It serves as a demonstration of solidarity in the face of hardship: it is a breath of fresh air for a sector of vital importance to the Moldovan economy, which is affected by an irrational Russian ban, just like the EU itself."
The duty-free quotas for the three products concerned are "very limited in volume" compared to EU production, added Moisa, who also stressed that the additional imports of the three products will probably be absorbed by the Romanian market "due to its cultural and geographical proximity, as well as the present market situation", with Romanian fruit production decreasing in volume accordingly.
Although 90 per cent of all imports from Moldova have entered the EU duty free since 2008, under its autonomous trade preferences regulation, fresh fruit is part of the 10 per cent that do not.
Russia imposed an import ban on Moldovan farm produce on 21 July 2014, as a political response to the EU’s deepening economic and political ties with the country – a move that hurt Moldova’s economy, with Russia representing its second largest trade partner after the EU.
The European Commission proposed the fruit import concession in response to an urgent appeal from Moldova for EU support.
This measure comes on top of trade preferences granted to Moldova as part of the “deep and comprehensive free trade area” with the EU, established by the EU-Moldova association agreement, which the European Parliament ratified last month.