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EU’s protectionism harms free trade

EU farm protectionism continues to threaten market access and harm international trade and development.

Frits Bolkestein, the former Dutch EU Commissioner for Internal Markets, argued that French agricultural protectionism poses significant dangers to global development, particularly undermining farmers in developing nations.

Published in Economie Matin and http://www.contrepoints.org/2013/12/10/149365-gras-trans-un-magnifique-exemple-de-proliferation-de-la-legislation, Bolkestein indicated that French protectionism is a danger to free trade in Europe and growers in developing countries. He noted undeserving harm done to oil palm growers in developing countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Bolkestein pointed out political campaign against palm oil is aimed at boosting French rapeseed industry, presumably threatened by palm oil products that are processed in the Netherlands. This is because Netherlands is a major hub for palm oil imports and processing in Europe.

Bolkestein points out that although the French lobby claimed they are forewarning the negative effects of palm oil consumption on public health, “the real reason was probably that the palm oil imported via our country was competing with French rapeseed oil.”

Such protectionist campaigns are not limited to France. Over at Ukraine, a lawmaker has reportedly proposed that parliament ban the use of palm oil in the production of foodstuffs in the Ukraine based on alleged health concerns.

Ukraine is one of the largest exporters of competing vegetable oils, raising concerns that the proposal is aimed at protecting domestic industry against more competitive palm oil rather than genuine concern for public health.

Ukraine is the biggest global exporter of sunflower oil, shipping out more than 3 million tonnes a year to the world market. Ukraine is also the largest rapeseed supplier to the EU, with shipments of close to a million tonnes a year.

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