Slovakia did not entirely succeed in convincing the European Commission of the need to increase the country's import duty on pork by 47.5% as of mid-May, and Agriculture Minister Pavel Koncoš says he now expects some form of counter measures from the EU affecting non-agricultural sectors.
Koncoš said on May 17 that in the future, Slovakia will have to find another way to cope with exports of subsidized EU pork than by imposing higher duties, an import surcharge or import quotas. Instead, Slovakia will have to use such measures as intervention purchases, support of exports or strict quality control. The jurisdiction to grant import licenses for agricultural commodities will also be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture from the Economy Ministry.
EU experts argued that the EU accounts for a very small share of the Slovak pork market, and blamed Slovakia's woes on shortcomings in its domestic market, such as low productivity and low competitiveness. Koncoš said he partly agreed with these arguments, but he added that EU-member countries account for almost 40% of pork imports into Slovakia while the Czech Republic, which is also under pressure from EU exports, makes up a 60% share.
So far, the Slovak State Market Regulation Fund has managed to halt excessive pork imports by intervention purchases, buying 2,400 metric tons of pork from a planned 7,000 metric tons of imports. However, despite objections from the European Commission, which says it will refer the case to the World Trade Organisation, Slovakia has resolved to go ahead with protection measures on pork imports from EU-member countries, which became effective in mid-May.
24. May 1999 at 0:00 | From press reports of TASR and SITA