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SA declares second citrus dispute

Publish date: 13 May 2024
Issue Number: 1076
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Trade

Consultations between Pretoria and the EU on the financially debilitating phytosanitary trade regulations imposed on SA citrus are set to take place before the World Trade Organisation (WTO). SA has declared a second dispute before the WTO after its citrus farmers have been at loggerheads with their European counterparts for the best part of a decade. Moneyweb reports that the EU claims that two diseases – citrus black spot (CBS) and false codling moth (FCM) – threaten their orchards. They also claim that our citrus is impacting their domestic sales. It is currently costing the local industry close to R2bn to comply with the EU’s trade regulations. The measures involve a detailed spray programme and inspections at orchard and packhouse level. ‘Despite the world’s leading scientists proving that CBS cannot be transmitted through the actual fruit as a pathway, the EU has continued to enforce measures on SA citrus growers,’ says Trade, Industry & Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel. The EU market makes up one third of all SA citrus exports. It is central to the profitability of the citrus industry. The EU’s volumes cannot be absorbed by other markets. ‘The consultations are a critical step in the WTO towards effective resolution of SA’s concerns,’ says Patel.

Trade adviser Gustav Brink says the allegations appear to be driven by Spanish producers and they appear to be false. Moneyweb notes that Brink said SA’s production season complements that of Spain, as we are in opposing hemispheres. When their season is over, SA’s just begins. There is also no scientific evidence to show that either CBS or FCM could spread to orchards in the EU. ‘The EU’s measures appear to be discriminatory,’ he notes. Industry players noticed that more shipments from East Africa are flagged for especially FCM on much lower volumes than from SA, yet the regulations do not apply to their shipments. The dispute relating to FCM was declared in July 2022. SA is arguing that the EU discriminates between products from different origins.

Full Moneyweb report

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