Croatia to Lower Import Fees for Food and Vegetables

By 10 August 2017

After intense pressure from neighbouring countries, the Agriculture Ministry has decided to reverse the import fee increase.

After Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić had introduced stricter controls over the import of fruits and vegetables from countries outside the European Union last month, neighbouring countries threatened Croatia with fierce countermeasures, reports Večernji List on 10 August 2017.

Tolušić increased the fee for inspection supervision from 90 to 2,000 kunas, but now, after the strong pressure from neighbouring countries and a warning by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, the fee will be lowered back to 90 kunas.

“The Ministry of Agriculture has amended the Regulations on Inspection Controls and Control of Conformity of Fruits and Vegetables with Market Standards. The amendments relate to the fee for monitoring the compliance of fresh fruit and vegetables with market standards and now amounts to 90,00 kunas for each type of fruit and vegetables for checks carried out by the agricultural and phytosanitary inspections. The amendments will be officially published in the Official Gazette on Friday.

The government has agreed with neighbouring countries that border controls for fruits and vegetables will be fully normalized by Friday. Furthermore, the cost of inspection fees in the region will be analyzed in order to ensure consumer protection and competitive position of farmers in a way that will not interfere with trade.

We also expect a meeting on the use of non-EU-approved agrochemicals to make agricultural producers from neighbouring countries better adapted to the European Union rules. Consumer protection will be the priority of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the inspection of fruits and vegetables will be carried out with the same intensity.

Each consignment of fruits and vegetables imported into Croatia must continue to comply with the general market standards. The Ministry of Agriculture will, as always, work intensively on measures to ensure quality and health of food which is sold in shops in Croatia,” said the Ministry in a statement.

The Parliamentary Committees on Agriculture and Economy announced they would hold a joint session on Friday to discuss the new rules.

Serbia responded to Tolušić's initial move by introducing countermeasures earlier this month. In addition to phytosanitary and veterinary controls, all food products from Croatia were subjected to lengthy laboratory analysis, which caused most foods and vegetables to perish.

The European Commission called on all sides to avoid escalation and do everything in order to resolve this issue through consultations.

Translated from Večernji List.