The Deep and Comprehensive
Free Trade Area

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What is DCFTA?

I. What is DCFTA?

The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) is an arrangement between the EU and the Republic of Moldova that foresees a preferential trade relationship, based on mutually advantageous treatment, giving to each other better access to their markets than that offered to other trade partners. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) foresees a removal of import (and export, if applicable) duties on trade in goods between the parties. It further provides for removal of obstacles to trade in services and better access for companies to establish in respective markets.

The Free Trade Areas that the EU establishes with its trade partners usually include a number of disciplines which go beyond “pure” trade. This is a “comprehensive” approach to trade, linked to the fact that trade is no longer decoupled from domestic policies on procurement, competition, intellectual property, or sustainable development. These issues are therefore also included in the DCFTA with the Republic of Moldova.

A specific policy dimension relates to the “deep” aspect of this FTA with the Republic of Moldova. As a member of the Eastern Partnership, the Republic of Moldova has been offered an advanced, associated partner status with the EU, aimed to forge closer political and economic ties with the EU. On this basis, the DCFTA includes several provisions aiming at reforming of the Republic of Moldova’s trade and trade-related policies, in line with, and on the basis of, the EU acquis. These will provide for modernisation of the economy, anchoring of EU investment in the country, and better and more predictable policy environment.

II. What does the DCFTA provide?

“Trade only” rules

1. Tariff duties

Complete elimination of all import duties and prohibition of export duties, on all goods on the EU side. Only some agricultural goods (mostly products of animal origin, sugars and cereal products), which are considered sensitive in the EU, will be subject to monitoring of trade flows. This monitoring will aim to ensure that imports of products classified as Moldovan do correspond to the Republic’s production capacity and no tariff circumvention by products of non-Moldovan origin occurs. In addition, a limited number of fruits and vegetables, which are subject to entry prices in the EU, will be liberalised (ad valorem free) within TRQs (tariff rate quotas) covering traditional trade flows.

As regards the Republic of Moldova, an immediate elimination of all import duties is foreseen for a majority of products. A staged liberalisation process (between 3 and 10 years, depending on a product) is foreseen for certain sensitive products (mostly agricultural, such as wine, certain processed agricultural goods, certain meat products and vegetables/fruits, as well as textiles/clothing among industrial goods) for the Republic. Certain products remain non-liberalised, managed within tariff rate quotas (poultry and pork meat, certain dairy products, processed meat products or sugar and related). The TRQs cover however the traditional trade flows between the EU and the Republic.

Overall trade liberalisation in agricultural goods can be reviewed by the parties with view to accelerating it, in the third year after the Agreement’s entry into force. A possibility to resort to a general safeguard measure for all products (agricultural or industrial) was requested by the Republic for the duration of 10 years. The mechanisms in place allows thus for a staged liberalisation of trade on the Moldovan side, with the necessary transition periods linked to the domestic reform process and strengthening of competitiveness of domestic industry before allowing full opening of the market to EU products.

2. Rules of origin

The Republic of Moldova will apply the rules of origin which make it possible to join the PanEuroMed (PEM) Convention, as a zone of cumulation of manufacturing processes with the EU and other PEM members, and which fosters positively regional economic integration for trade in goods. However, to smoothen the transition between the autonomous trade regime and DCFTA, until end 2015, the Autonomous Trade Preference for the Republic of Moldova will continue to apply on the basis of the applicable rules of origin (for the purpose of benefiting from that preference, not DCFTA).

3. Services and establishment

The EU and the Republic of Moldova provide to each other market access for cross-border services in a wide range of areas, beyond the commitments inscribed in GATS. Furthermore, the parties agreed on broad access for establishment in a wide variety of sectors, which are accompanied by so called “mode 4” provisions, entitling qualified personnel to temporary work in the EU or the Republic of Moldova, in sectors covered by the establishment provisions.

B. The
“comprehensive” aspect

1. Competition policy

The rules are more closely based on relevant EU disciplines to ensure proper implementation of domestic competition laws and prevention of monopolistic practices or abuse of dominant position. The EU and the Republic of Moldova aim to ensure cooperation on exchange of information and enforcement of competition rules. As regards assessment of subsidies/state aid, these rules are more closely based on the EU legislation and will apply within 5 years from the entry into force of this Agreement. The Republic is also engaged to create necessary enforcement institutions for state aid, operational within 2 years from the date of entry into force of the Agreement. There is also a transition period foreseen for alignment of state aid granted previously to Moldovan entities.

2. Intellectual property

The parties reinforce their engagement to protect intellectual property beyond the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions. These concern the extended protection of different intellectual property rights (i.e. trade marks, patents, design, plant variety) improved cooperation and stronger (civil) enforcement of IPs, including on the border. Equally, the Agreement on Geographical Indications is entirely integrated in the DCFTA.

3. Sustainable development and transparency

These two chapters foresee that economic development in the Republic of Moldova should take place in respect of environmental, social and labour legislation, in particular the relevant international agreements that the Republic of Moldova is party to, and involving the necessary transparency in policy-making. The latter disciplines relate to close involvement of civil society, relevant experts and stakeholders in policy-making, consultations and openness in designing and implementing DCFTA-related policies.

C. The

1. Food safety/sanitary and phytosanitary measures

These disciplines provide for the trade conditions in plants and plant products, as well as animals and products of animal origin. They further provide for the procedure to establish the equivalence of the Moldovan food safety regime with the EU regime, which should enable Moldova to export to the EU animals and products of animal origin. The reform process is established by the DCFTA and the exact timetable for its implementation will be established 1 month after the entry into force of the Agreement. Once this work is completed and assessed positively, the Republic of Moldova will gain further access to the EU market.

2. Technical regulations and standards for industrial goods

Provide for progressive (until 2018) and comprehensive alignment of Moldovan horizontal and sectorial legislation for industrial products with the EU laws. Once the Republic of Moldova is ready and the alignment of legislation completed, the parties shall add as a Protocol to this Agreement an Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of industrial standards in selected industrial sectors. Such an agreement would recognise the Moldovan accreditation and market surveillance policies for industrial goods, which would lower the cost of trade in industrial products for businesses on both sides.

3. Public procurement

The EU and Moldova aim for further and gradual (within 8 years) modernisation of the Moldovan procurement system and alignment of the legislation with the EU one. Completion of the reform process, aiming to adapt Moldovan procurement practices to the EU ones, would result in better access to the EU market on the basis of national treatment, above certain value thresholds. Once the alignment of legislation is completed, the EU and the Republic of Moldova will look into the possibility of opening their respective markets to each other below the determined value thresholds.

4. Services

The reform process will cover the areas of postal and courier services, international maritime transport, electronic communications and financial services. As a result, the EU may deepen the access to its market in the services area within the bilateral services commitments. The Republic of Moldova foresees up to 10 years for the gradual reform process in all these areas.

5. Customs and trade facilitation

The Republic of Moldova will undertake disciplines related to management of customs policy, of customs fraud and administrative cooperation to this effect, in line with EU legislation. The DCFTA foresees approximation of selected EU legislation to this effect, within 3 years since the entry into force (such as the EU customs code or customs enforcement of intellectual property).

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This website has been prepared by the EU-funded project "Support to the DCFTA process in the Republic of Moldova" and implemented by the European Profiles S.A. led Consortium.
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