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Distinct increase of EU exports to global agricultural markets


COMPETE Forum presented current findings and policy recommendations

The European Union (EU) achieved a distinct increase of its exports to the world’s agricultural markets in the last two decades. In spite of the rising value of foreign trade flows, there was a slight decline in the EU member countries’ market share on major export markets.

The emergence of new competitors, most notably the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and the removal of trade barriers exert increasing pressure on the competitiveness of EU countries. Current findings on the competitiveness of European food chains were presented as part of the project ‘International Comparisons of Product Supply Chains in the Agro-Food Sectors: Determinants of their Competitiveness and Performance on EU and International Markets’ (COMPETE) at the COMPETE Forum in Berlin on 25 June 2014.

The joint research project COMPETE, combining 16 European partners, analyses foreign trade flows for various value chains, such as grain, milk, pork meat as well as fruit and vegetables, in order to derive targeted and evidence-based policy recommendations at the EU and national levels.

Initial analysis of the research project launched in 2012 indicated that about 27 per cent of EU agricultural and food products are competitive. EU member countries particularly hold competitive advantages in the field of processed products, albeit competitiveness of food chains grossly varies among individual countries and is in general higher in old EU member countries than in newly acceded states.

A productivity analysis of the European dairy sector revealed highest productivity levels in regions with natural locational advantages. In addition, the processing industry and primary production appear to benefit each other in terms of efficiency enhancement.

This means that countries with productive dairies typically have also efficient milk producers. Productivity is particularly high in EU countries with predominantly large farm structures and where quota utilization tends towards full utilization. It is assumed that the abolishment of milk quotas will cause European dairy production to be further transferred to high-efficiency region in Central Europe, resp. the less efficient regions will undergo profound structural change.

‘The overall objective of politics and industry should be the promotion of innovative capacity, to maintain free competition without market barriers and to support investments in research and development in order to improve export orientation and competitiveness of EU countries’, said project coordinator Heinrich Hockmann, IAMO.

The collaborative project COMPETE has a duration of three years and is funded by the European Commission under the 7th EU Research Framework Program. For further information on the COMPETE project, please, go to: 

About IAMO

The Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) analyses economic, social and political processes of change in the agricultural and food sector, and in rural areas. The geographic focus covers the enlarging EU, transition regions of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, as well as Central and Eastern Asia. IAMO is making a contribution towards enhancing understanding of institutional, structural and technological changes. Moreover, IAMO is studying the resulting impacts on the agricultural and food sector as well as the living conditions of rural populations. The outcomes of our work are used to derive and analyze strategies and options for enterprises, agricultural markets and politics. Since its foundation in 1994, IAMO has been part of the Leibniz Association, a German community of independent research institutes.

Please note that since the beginning of this year the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe is renamed Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies. The acronym IAMO is still valid.

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Daniela Schimming | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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