Starch Europe welcomes the fact that the Commission has taken into account the sensitivities of EU starch producers in its negotiations with Vietnam. We particularly welcome the fact that the quota for all sensitive starch products, except native tapioca starch, has been kept to 2,000 tonnes. We are concerned however about the 30,000 tonnes duty free quota which has been agreed for native tapioca starch.
Native tapioca starch is a direct competitor to EU native potato starch. The EU market for native potato starch is approximately 400,000 tonnes. The quota allowed for Vietnamese native tapioca starch therefore represents approximately 8% of the market. This quota is on top of the TRQ of 10 000 tonnes for native tapioca starch from Thailand and the TRQ of 10 500 tonnes for native tapioca starch from the rest of the world.
As the Commission is well aware, the EU potato starch sector is going through a difficult transition period since the end of coupled support in 2012. We very much hope that this draft agreement with Vietnam will not act as a precedent for ongoing FTA negotiations with other tapioca starch producing third countries (notably Thailand).