United States Mission to the European Union
Foreign Agricultural Service
United States Department Of Agriculture
Last modified: December 13, 2017

Tariff Rate Quotas

The GATT negotiations in the Uruguay Round of 1994 resulted in import concessions under reduced tariff, or so-called tariff-rate quota (TRQ), which allow imports of fixed quantities of a product at a lower tariff.  Once the quota is filled, a higher tariff is applied on additional imports.  WTO members may also establish autonomous TRQs at any time.  Hence, many countries have been granted import concessions within the scope of bilateral or regional free trade agreements (FTA’s).  EU preferential duty rates for specific products can be found in the European Commission’s online customs database.

Croatia became the 28th EU member state on July 1, 2013.  On May 1, 2004, the EU had expanded from 15 to 25 member states and further to 27 member states on January 1, 2007.  Under GATT rules, WTO trading partners must be compensated when a customs union is formed or expanded.  In March 2006, the U.S. and the EU signed a bilateral enlargement compensation agreement to offset tariff increases that the EU implemented as a result of the expansion with 10 new member states.  As part of the agreement, implemented by Council Regulation 711/2006, tariffs on fish (hake, Alaska Pollack, surimi) have been permanently reduced, country-specific TRQs have been opened for U.S. exports of boneless ham, poultry and corn gluten meal and existing global TRQs have been expanded for beef, poultry, pork, rice, barley, wheat, maize, sugar, fructose, preserved fruits, fruit juices, pasta, chocolate, dairy, food preparations, pet food, live bovine animals and sheep and various cheeses and vegetables.  For exports under a U.S. specific TRQ, a certificate of origin must be supplied. Compensation negotiations with the United States for the enlargement of 2007 were concluded at the end of 2011 and entered into force on July 1, 2013.

Detailed rules on the opening and administration of specific TRQs are published in the EU’s Official Journal.  Each TRQ has a 6-digit order number to identify specific conditions such as quantity, start/end date in the relevant legislation.  The EU allocates TRQs to importers using import licenses issued by the member states’ national authorities.  Only companies established in the EU may apply for an import license.  Council Regulation 717/2008 establishes a Community procedure for administering quantitative quotas.  Community rules on the administration of TRQs for agricultural products managed by a system of import licenses are set out in Council Regulation 1301/2006.

Preferential Trade Agreements

Preferential market access to EU markets is also given to developing countries through trade agreements like the Everything-But-Arms agreement (EBA) for all least developed countries and through the European Partnership Agreements (EPA) with former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).  These agreements provide duty-free and quota-free EU market access for almost any product.  An overview of the EU’s bilateral and regional trade agreements can be found on DGTrade’s webpage.