The Citrus Growers Association has accused the European Union of bowing to political pressure, following its decision to impose a cold storage requirement on citrus imports from South Africa.
The association has strongly condemned the decision that it says demands that farmers subject produce to extreme cold storage to avoid moth infestation.
The South African government has lodged a trade dispute with the World Trade Organisation on the matter. South Africa is the world’s second largest exporter of fresh citrus after Spain.
Association’s chairperson Hannes de Waal says the EU caved into political pressure.
“Why we deem it unfair, is [because] we think that the European Union did not really apply science. We think that they caved into political pressure, especially from Spain, and it obviously adds additional cost. You know the cost of shipping over the last two year has more than doubled to certain trade routes, including to the European Union. It’s excessive at the moment and this industry is struggling,” says De Waal.
Below is the full interview with Hannes de Waal:
New EU regulations on citrus imports
The Department of Agriculture says it is working around the clock to reach an agreement with the European Union about the new regulations it has imposed on citrus imports.
The new regulations, if upheld, will have dire consequences for local citrus exporters.
Citrus fruit worth more than R600 million has already been exported and is stuck in Europe.
The fruit is at risk of being destroyed if an agreement is not reached by the end of this week.
Exported fruit is now required to undergo a mandatory 25-day cold process treatment before being exported.
The new regulations were published and implemented while large consignments of fruit were already on route to the EU under the old rules.
VIDEO: New regulations on citrus imports discussed