The text of the Agreement that will succeed the current 2005 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives as of 1 January 2017 was adopted by consensus at the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva where it was negotiated between 5 and 9 October.
The new Agreement is based on the text adopted by the IOC Council of Members in June of this year but incorporates some changes designed to make certain points clearer.
This new text takes into account developments in the world olive and olive oil industry. It reasserts the role of the IOC as a world centre for documentation and information dissemination about the olive and its products and as a forum for industry stakeholders. It also places emphasis on standardising national and international legislation on the physical, chemical and organoleptic characteristics of olive oils, olive pomace oils and table olives in order to prevent obstacles to trade.
Compared with preceding Agreements, the new Agreement is simpler, more rational and more condensed. It is aimed at facilitating the participation of importer countries and features a modified system for calculating the distribution of participation shares that is meant to encourage consumer countries to join. New decision making arrangements have also been put in place and make a distinction between decisions that must be taken exclusively by consensus and decisions that may be taken by a vote if consensus is not reached. In the second case, decision-making by voting will require a larger or smaller majority depending on the subject matter. The budget structure of the IOC has also been simplified.
During negotiations, the Conference Chairman made a recommendation concerning the Members who were in arrears with the payment of their contributions for exceptional reasons. The Chairman of the IOC pledged to have this recommendation examined from the next session of the IOC Council of Members and to hold specific discussions on the IOC trade rules for olive pomace oils and the types of table olive preparations.
This is the sixth conference that has been held at UNCTAD since 1956 to negotiate the Agreement the IOC is mandated to administer.
The new text will enter into force on 1 January 2017 and will remain in force until 31 December 2026. It is the culmination of two years of discussion by a special working group set up in 2013 and followed by the proceedings at the international conference. It will be open for signature by Governments and Contracting Parties through 2016. The Secretariat General of the United Nations will be the new depositary of the Agreement.