April 6, 2004

"EU market fraught with discrimination", says ICTSD

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) says developing countries face four major obstacles in accessing the European market for organic agricultural products. According to the latest ICTSD bulletin, the obstacles are on account of importing countries' markets that are largely reserved for domestic products while developing countries face significant market barriers and discrimination. It says developing countries face a number of constraints at the domestic level including insufficient domestic markets for organic products and the lack of technical capacity and regulatory systems as well as inadequate polices and institutional frameworks that have limited their expansion.

According to the ICTSD the four major obstacles relate to production and marketing subsidies, certification problems, a complex system of marketing channels and a lack of systematic market information. The publication says the EU has developed a strong internal market for organic agriculture products with the direct participation of its producer associations in certification, sales and marketing of the final product. Under the relevant directive that regulates organic agriculture products, imports from developing countries were subjected to a system of recognition, a status too complicated to be obtained. The ICTSD also states that sheer diversity and dynamic nature of the EU market makes quick access to information fundamental. Furthermore, the centre also stresses that as a way forward in the face of these obstacles, concerted efforts were needed to be exerted at both international and domestic level among them, calling for clear rules on equivalence and mutual recognition especially for important trade schemes. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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