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Závěry z jednání Poradního výboru EK "Market Access" (24.1.2008)

State of play on implementation of the Market Access Partnership


Up-date on current Working Groups
Review of the medical devices Working Group
Review of the SPS Working Groups: The Asia/China working group -on both plant and animal health questions- could not hold its first meeting before Christmas. This is likely to take place now at the end of February. The Latin America working group should receive an inter-services "green light" soon and as soon as this is the case, a meeting will be set up. Other SPS related issues have been briefly mentioned, because they have recently been addressed: problem with the export of meat to Saudi Arabia have been solved, i. e. the ban on Portuguese products has been lifted before Christmas, as well as the ban on German poultry products.

Up-date on the Complaint Register
Seven complaints have been registered since the launch in December of the on-line registration system. It seems however, that a number of "complainants" are misusing this instrument. There was some discussion about the scope and J. Schaps confirmed that complaints could embrace any systemic difficulties that need to be addressed (rather than specific cases, like lorries blocked at a customs office, which cannot be tackled quickly enough through this system); The register can also be used as an advance notice or early warning of problems that will arise. He added that this may not be the only approach to tackle such cases.

Third Country Cooperation
The Commission is also pursuing cooperation with countries like Japan and the USA to look for common interests vis-à-vis other countries. Four cases have been identified with Japan that could be pursued further with this cooperation.

Up-date on the progress report 2007
The presentation of the progress report to the 133 Committee that had been prepared and distributed at the December meeting of the Market Access Advisory Committee (MAAC) was finally postponed until 25 January (see annex 2).
At the next meeting of the MAAC in February, on 28 February, the Committee will be able to review the up-date on the US trade barriers report.


Role of Local Market Access Teams in the Market Access Partnership

It is important to note that before the Partnership was created, many structures aimed at addressing trade problems, existed and continue to exist. The functioning of these groups is seldom known and there is little information about the scope of their activity. This leads to confusion between old and new style working groups and teams.

Japan is apparently a good example of a case where something existed before the Market Access partnership was set up. The MA partnership has streamlined the activity of the Working Groups that existed beforehand, including on SPS and on food issues, and which have regularly fed the regulatory dialogue.

In Mexico, there is a trade section in the delegation that is organising monthly meetings of trade counsellors. Main issues that are discussed are non-tariff barriers. Under the FTA, a SPS committee has been set up, which provides for another opportunity to raise issues. Both the SPS and the TBT Committees are meeting once a year (the Agriculture agreement has also a revision clause and the EU has offensive interests in both dairy products and ham).

In Australia the implementation of the market access strategy is in the making. There have been very positive responses received from Member States. Specific issues cover SPS issues and also tax issues (wine equalisation tax).

In Russia, there are already contacts with the business community through the AEB (Association of European Business), including food and drink industry businesses. J. Schaps was of the opinion that in certain cases, notably as regards Russia, business should come together and establish a list of priority issues. The local teams should then decide what priorities should be pursued.

In essence, all major countries have already their groups and bodies in place. The advantage of the MA Partnership is to increase efficiency of existing groups and to create new groups where required. Before creating dedicated MA teams, it must be considered that this may require getting the work out of existing dialogue structures.

Some participants expressed concern about leaving local teams to decide about their priority issues that needed to be pursued. They also stressed the danger of referring only to cases of companies that are established in the countries of destination, which is likely not the case of many SMEs. Associations also requested more information and transparency about the work of these local groups, whether they are formally composed teams of old style working groups.


Working Groups and Market Access Cases: possible new initiatives

The proposals submitted by the UK on the creation of new cases were reviewed by Commission officials. Concerning the SPS cases proposed by the UK for India and South Korea, DG Sanco was of the opinion that these issues were already being addressed in the framework of the SPS chapters in the FTA negotiations (India and South Korea), making the creation of a MA team unnecessary for the moment.