The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has pointed to opposition from some EU Member States as to why tariffs and duties costing EU farmers up to €1 billion have not yet been removed.
The Minister said he asked the Commission to consider a temporary suspension of customs tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertilisers in the lead-up to the March 2016 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.
“I actively pursued this issue at Council level throughout 2016 with the Commission and in consultation with Council colleagues.
“I raised the issue again at the January 2017 meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, when I asked the Commission to address the significant overpricing of fertilisers in the EU brought about by the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports,” he said.
However, he said while commissioner Hogan acknowledged the desirability of bringing about lower prices, he indicated that it was proving difficult to achieve, despite considerable efforts on his part with other member states and internally within the Commission.
“I would be less than honest if I failed to acknowledge that this initiative does not have widespread support.
“There are member states with significant indigenous fertiliser industries that are protected by these tariffs and anti-dumping levies,” Minister Creed said.
“That adds a cost to agriculture. Nonetheless, I am personally committed to continuing to raise this matter. I do not think it would be accurate to say this issue lends itself to an easy solution,” he added.
According to EUROSTAT, fertiliser is the third most important expenditure item on EU farms, accounting for €19.2 billion of expenditure in 2014.
Fertiliser prices have increased significantly in recent years, partly due to the protection provided by the imposition of duties on non-EU imports.
Opportunities to manage price risk through hedging mechanisms have also been limited.
In February 2016, the International Food and Policy Research Institute published a report on the effects of import duty elimination on competition in the EU fertiliser market.
The report concluded that the protection afforded to EU manufacturers by the application of anti-dumping duties and customs tariffs is costing farmers up to €1 billion per annum.