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Agriculture and rural development
News article4 June 2020Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development

Challenges for agri-food trade in February 2020

February 2020 presented a number of challenges for agri-food trade, including the Covid-19 pandemic, US tariffs, and UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In the face of these challenges, the EU’s agri-food exports reached a monthly value of €15.1 billion (an increase of 4.6% compared to February 2019), while the value of imports came to €9.8 billion (0.7% above the level of February 2019). Despite the challenges, some products and countries experienced a growth in trade values, as outlined in the monthly trade report for February 2020, published today by the European Commission.

The COVID-19 outbreak did not appear to impact the EU’s agri-food exports to China, as monthly values rose by €291 million compared to February 2019. The growth was largely driven by exports of pork, infant food, offal meat and wheat and coarse grains. Increases were also recorded for Algeria (up by €110 million), Saudi Arabia (up €84 million) and Japan (increase of €69 million). In the first month of the Brexit transition period, the value of the EU’s exports to the UK fell by €364 million, despite the UK remaining under single market conditions. In the USA, tariffs on EU products such as wine, cheese and olive oil contributed to a decrease of €66 million in agri-food export values. Falls were also recorded for Hong Kong (down by €48 million) and Lebanon (down €36 million).

A rise in the EU’s intake of cocoa beans drove a surge in the monthly import value of products from Cote d’Ivoire (a growth of €82 million), while increases were also recorded for Canada (up by €74 million) and Indonesia (a rise of €60 million). However, the value of imports from the UK decreased by €113 million, while drops were also recorded for Argentina (a fall of €62 million) and the USA (down by €55 million).

In terms of commodities, most EU agri-food products experienced a decline in their monthly export values compared to February 2019. The most notable falls came for wine (a decrease of €142 million), raw hides and skins (down by €34 million), spirits and liqueurs (down €32 million), cotton (a drop of €31 million), and beet and cane sugar (a decrease of €31 million). However, the export value of some products increased, such as pork (a rise of €278 million), wheat (up by €228 million), and coarse grains (a jump of €145 million).

A small number of products saw a rise in their monthly import values, including vegetable oils (a jump of €138 million), fresh and dried tropical fruit (up by €98 million), and oilseeds (other than soyabeans) (an increase of €69 million). Amongst the products whose import values fell, the highest decreases were recorded for oil cakes (a declined of €219 million), coarse grains (down by €107 million), and wheat (a drop of €83 million).

Graph showing EU trade of agri-food products in million euro for February 2018-20

More information

4 JUNE 2020
Monitoring EU agri-food trade: developments until February 2020
(611.97 KB - PDF)

Related links

Trade and international policy analysis

Previous monthly data on EU agri-food imports and exports.