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EU proposes to keep jet fuel imports duty-free

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Monday put forward a proposal that would ensure jet fuel imports remain exempt of duty, the EU's executive arm said.

Europe's aviation sector, fuel traders and oil producers in the Middle East and India had feared a change to the European Union's tariff scheme from next year could lead to a 4.7 percent levy on jet fuel imports.

The proposal, which member states are expected to endorse, will scrap the tariffs that would have arisen from January 1.

The Commission has decided "to propose exemption of all jet fuel imports from customs duties, regardless of their country of origin", it said in a statement.

European airlines had lobbied the Commission in recent months to scrap the planned tariffs, which had created uncertainty in 2014 purchasing programmes with producers in the Middle East and India, according to traders.

European demand for jet fuel totalled 1.2 million barrels per day last year, of which one third was imported, mostly from the Middle East, according to the International Energy Agency.

In June, the EU said it would impose a duty on imports from Gulf Cooperation Council states starting on January 1, 2014 after removing the group from the so-called generalised scheme of preferences, which offers trade advantages to developing economies.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Dale Hudson)