The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, is said to be supportive of calls to temporarily remove suspended EU import tariffs on fertiliser, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

In a Dail debate this week, Minister Coveney said that at a recent meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers he called on the Commission to further consider the temporary suspension of EU import tariffs on fertilisers in order to reduce import costs for farmers in Ireland and the rest of the European Union

He said the idea that EU are charging a tariff on fertilisers imported into the European Union and, therefore, increasing prices when farmers are operating within very tight margins, if there are margins at all, is ‘totally unacceptable’.

According to Minister Coveney, the Commissioner supports that position, but other Commissioners are involved in the decision.

It is understood that a decision on the issue depends on support from DG Trade and DG MOVE in the Commission and at the request of DG AGRI they are considering it.

IFA Report

A recent report found that existing trade barriers are costing European farmers nearly €1 billion in import duties.

The IFA-commissioned report by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute examined competition in Europe’s fertiliser industry and alleges that fertiliser cartels and price fixing may be operable within the EU.

The report concluded that the long-term impact of the removal of all European import duties on fertilisers could result in €481m in welfare gains and more than 17,245 jobs created in the European Union.

It also says that the complete removal of all duties on fertiliser appears to be a beneficial reform for the European economy.

The report found that prices of fertilisers in Western European countries increased by 123% between 1970 and 2002, while prices in other countries like Brazil decreased by 65%.

It said the removal of import duties at the European border could result in an average decrease of 5.3% in domestic fertiliser prices in Europe.