There are significant trade flows between the countries of the EU, as several countries re-export dates. They are estimated at over 10 000 tonnes per year.
France stands out for its important role as an internal supplier to the EU, mainly Northern European countries. Its main markets are the UK (over 2 000 tonnes in 2000-2001), Germany (over 1 700 tonnes), Spain (750 tonnes), the Netherlands and Belgium (some 600 tonnes each)3. It imports (from Tunisia and Algeria) significant quantities of natural dates in bulk which are then processed, packaged and re-exported. This processing activity is somewhat declining, as Algeria and Tunisia ship more packed and processed dates directly to their final markets than in the past. However, French operators continue to export substantial quantities thanks to their know-how and trade contacts.
After a period of relative decline in the early 1990s, French exports to other EU countries have increased since 1994 (Figure 10), exceeding 9 000 tonnes in 2000 (9 500 tonnes exported to all destinations). France's share of the EU market has risen to 15 percent from 11 percent in 1985. However, France has suffered the same decline in export prices as external suppliers have. The unit value of French exports has declined steadily and been halved from almost US$4 000 per tonne in 1994 to some US$2 000 per tonne in 2000 (Figure 10).
The other EU countries re-export much smaller quantities. The United Kingdom re-exported 1 700 tonnes of dates in 1992 but since then its exports have gradually fallen to less than 500 tonnes (to Ireland, Denmark and Germany). Germany has become the EU's second largest date exporter with shipments ranging between 700 and 900 tonnes per year in the 1998-2000 period (to Austria and Denmark). The Netherlands re-exports between 500 and 700 tonnes annually.
3 Source: Eurostat 2002.