The European Union has lowered tariffs on tuna imports from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

Tariffs have been reduced to 12% from the current 24%, effective 1 July, 2003. However, this only applies to a specified amount of tuna imports, known as tariff rate quota or TRQ. The TRQ in this case is 25,000 metric tons, and will be shared by exporters in the three countries.

The Philippines will benefit from 9000 million tons, Thailand 13,000 mt and Indonesia 2750 mt. The TRQ will be in place for five years, reported Business World.

Exporters are hoping to see the agreement boost their shipments by at least 3% per annum as of 2004.

The Philippines, along with Thailand, had challenged the European practice of granting preferential tariff treatment in favour of the tuna exports of certain African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The EU decision follows the opinion advanced by a WTO-appointed mediator.