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EU imports of oranges are restricted not only by ad valorem tariffs but also by the entry price system establishing a minimum import price. In addition, the EU applies a comprehensive system of trade preferences. The hypothesis of this paper is that, in contrast to its complexity, the effectiveness of the EU import system for oranges is low with respect to its goals, i.e. protecting EU producers and creating imports from preference receiving countries. The comparison of import prices for oranges from extra-EU countries with the EU entry price shows that the former are about 40% higher than the latter on average. Also, it is pointed out that at least 72% of extra-EU orange imports during the EU harvest season enter the EU tariff free. As a conclusion, the contribution of the import regime to the protection of EU producers is low. Concordantly, the preferential entry price is not utilized by orange preference receiving countries. Besides, although orange quotas increased from 1991 to 2003, actual exports from Mediterranean countries and thus quota filling rates have decreased over the same period. It is shown that EU trade preferences for oranges were not decisive for the development of Mediterranean countries' orange exports to the EU. In the light of the low effectiveness of the entry price system for oranges along with high transaction costs involved, its abolishment should be considered. Yet, results cannot be generalized, even not for citrus fruit, as is demonstrated for mandarins.


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