A trade dispute pits South Africa and the European Union over pests that affect South African citrus.
Large amounts of South African oranges are inaccessible to the European market. They have been stranded in port for her three weeks and face destruction as South Africa and the European Union clash over the application of new health measures.
South Africa, the world’s second largest exporter of fresh citrus fruits after Spain, filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the EU introduced these phytosanitary regulations.Enacted At the height of the orange season, they surprised growers.
According to the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa (CGA), the new measures took effect on 14 July 2022, when ships carrying hundreds of full containers of South African fruit bound for Europe had already set sail. did.
Measures deemed “excessive”
3.2 million boxes of citrus fruit worth approximately €35 million were left with invalid documents upon arrival. South African Producers Association CEO Justin Chadwick said the South African government hastily issued new dossiers for shipments meeting the new standards, but hundreds of containers had to be scrapped. .
EU regulations aim to address the potential spread of the parasite Haumatotibia leucotreta (or codling moth).
In Brussels, all European table oranges must be extremely cold treated and kept at a temperature of no more than 2 degrees Celsius for 25 days. According to South African growers, this is not necessary. Because the country already has more targeted measures to prevent infection.
“Although the systems already in place include cold processing, which is subject to risks, the EU measures are general measures involving all oranges.”Justin Chadwick, CEO, Citrus Growers Association of South Africa
The purpose of phytosanitary standards is to protect the EU. “If this pest becomes established, it could have a significant impact on agriculture and the environment.” In Europe, according to a spokesperson for the European Commission.
South Africa, in its complaint to the WTO, argues that European requirements do not apply. “Not based on scientific data”,what is it “Discriminatory” When “excess”.
Sectors ‘under pressure’
In addition, South African officials say these new standards will put more stress on an already tested sector. “Our industry is under pressure. For us, this is the year of survival.”Justin Chadwick explains.
“It adds costs, and now it’s something no producer in the world can afford.”claims Hannes de Waal, who runs a nearly century-old Sundays River Citrus farm in the southeastern part of the country. − at the beginning of The company, which owns more than 7,000 hectares of orange, clementine and lemon trees, has already seen revenues dwindle due to rising transportation costs since the pandemic. Add to this the increase in fertilizer prices due to the war in Ukraine.
Europe is the largest market for South African citrus. The sector employs more than 120,000 people in South Africa, where more than one in three is unemployed.
CEO of the South African Citrus Growers Association, “common sense” Prioritize and find fast solutions. He has 60 days for the parties to negotiate a solution. Failing this, the claimant may request arbitration by a panel. The EU “Compatibility of the measures with WTO rules”.