South Africa decries EU citrus regulations

Wed 23/08/2023 by Richard Wilkinson

The South African Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) has called on the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene to persuade the EU to change its rules on fungal disease on citrus, which it terms “unfair” and “discriminatory” with relation to citrus black spot (CBS).

“The EU has continued to enforce rules that are unscientific and irrational,” said Deon Joubert, the CGA’s special envoy for market access and EU matters. “The situation has now become so serious that substantial losses in jobs and revenue are on the horizon unless immediate action is taken. So far this season the EU has claimed a number of interceptions of CBS on fruit,” he noted. “However, a pattern of erroneous classifications of CBS has been established. In Belgium and Portugal CBS tests have proven to be unreliable and have resulted in false positives.”

The EU has recently added new regulations to tackle the spread of false codling moth (FCM), which resulted in significant losses for South Africa’s citrus exporters last year. Joubert said: “Unfortunately, the EU has continued to enforce rules that are unscientific and irrational.”

The South African citrus industry argues that CBS is a cosmetic issue that only affects a very small percentage of fruit exported, thanks to South Africa’s control measures. “Even though there is conclusive evidence that citrus fruit without leaves is not a pathway for the spread of CBS, the EU has continued to enforce these unreasonable measures,” Joubert said.

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