Sweden braces for EU-induced egg boom

A ban on bare cages for egg-laying poultry, which comes into effect in the new year, could mean an egg boom for Sweden if the demand rises quicker than the European poultry farmers have time to adjust.

Sweden braces for EU-induced egg boom

”Sweden adjusted to the new rules a few years ago now, so we don’t have to do anything when the new rules come into effect,” Åsa Lannhard Öberg of the agency told The Local.

Despite the fact that the ban on bare poultry cages for egg laying hens in the EU was clubbed as early as 1999, there are today about 1,000 establishments in 14 member states that haven’t changed when the ban comes into effect on January 1st.

According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) those poultry farmers who break the rules may be subject to sanctions and could be forced to close up shop, which could result in an Pan-European egg shortage and cause prices to soar.

For Sweden, as well as other countries that have already made the change, this could be good news.

”One scenario is that the demand increases and that we see an egg boom in Sweden and in other countries that have made the change already,” said Lannhard Öberg.

According to the agency there is a small risk that ”illegal” eggs will enter Sweden when the rules have come into effect, although the country only really imports eggs from countries that have already made the change.

”It is possible but we judge that risk to be very slim. And it is important to remember that these eggs are ‘illegal’ from an animal welfare perspective but you wouldn’t get sick from eating them,” Lannhard Öberg told The Local.

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WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.