Minister for Agriculture Petros Xenophontos participated in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU on Tuesday, where he participated in discussions regarding the state of the agricultural market in the EU as well as trade with Ukraine. During a discussion on negotiations towards an EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the Minister said that halloumi should be exported to the country duty-free.
According to a Ministry of Agriculture press release which was circulated by the PIO, the Swedish Presidency of the Council briefed the ministers on the progress in negotiations towards an EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement for agricultural products.
Xenophontos requested that halloumi be included in the list of products that can be exported to Australia without tariffs. He also noted that future revisions of the list of Geographical Indications should include flagship products of Member States that strengthen local agricultural economies.
The debate on trade in agricultural products between the EU and Ukraine opened with an intervention by the Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture, Mykola Solskyi. The Ukrainian Minister described the very difficult situation faced by the country and Ukrainian agriculture since the Russian invasion. Member States also referred to the impact of the invasion on their own markets and called on the European Commission to propose relevant measures.
During his intervention, the Minister of Agriculture reiterated Cyprus' support for Ukraine, noting, however, that unilateral measures create undesirable effects on the EU internal market. He also highlighted the problems faced by the primary sector in Cyprus, especially given the very high increase in production costs affecting all farmers. The Minister asked the Commission to develop support measures for farmers which will provide the necessary flexibility to member states in order to support their production sector.
The Ministers from Portugal, France, Italy and Spain then briefed the Council on the impact of adverse climate conditions in their territory during the 2022 hydrological year. Xenophontos expressed Cyprus' solidarity with the residents of the affected areas, noting that the country is also facing extreme weather events with increased frequency and intensity. He also noted the need to support agricultural production in these areas as well as in Member States facing similar problems.