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CGC calls on Madrid and Brussels to work to remove US tariffs

CGC calls on Madrid and Brussels to work to remove US tariffs

 

On July 24, Airbus announced that it was denouncing the aid that was declared illegal by the World Trade Organization (WTO). As confirmed shortly after by the European Commission (EC), the Governments of Spain, France and Germany then agreed with the European aeronautical manufacturer to modify the terms of the repayable credits granted to the firm, in order to reflect market conditions and try to settle the trade dispute with the US and with the company from that country, Boeing. 

The EU-US trade dispute relating to subsidies to US firm Airbus, led to retaliatory measures from the US against European agri-food products. Since October 2019, a 25% tariff has effectively kicked out Spanish citrus (mainly clementines) from the US market, as well as great damage to other Spanish products such as olive oil, wine and cheeses.

Despite the dispute being resolved, the tariffs are still in place, which is why Spain’s Citrus Management Committee (CGC) calls on the Spanish Government and the EC to act to accelerate the reopening and allow resumption of affected agri-food exports, including oranges from September. In a press release, the CGC argues that failure to act quickly will make it difficult for operators to organise the logistics necessary to negotiate new supply programmes to the US.

The EU is in favour of a negotiated solution. However, if there is no agreement, Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has warned that “the EU will be ready to exercise its rights to impose sanctions.” Hogan was referring to the forthcoming ruling of the WTO, which must promptly determine whether the measures granted by the US to Boeing can be replicated in the EU. CGC president, Inmaculada Sanfeliu, said, “If Europe really wants to end this trade war, an agreement should now be closed. The agri-food sector in general and citrus fruits in particular are the major victims of Europe’s geopolitical decisions.”

Photo: MINCOTUR / Reyes Maroto & Phil Hogan

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Spain breaks citrus export records in March

Spain breaks citrus export records in March

 

With almost half a million tons exported (499,291) and with the second half of the month seeing the country placed under a state of emergency, the Spanish citrus sector registered the best month of March in its story. What’s more, the upturn in demand motivated by concerns about Covid-19 and the desire among consumers to strengthen their immune systems, allowed the campaign to turn around. Indeed, despite domestic harvest being almost 24% lower and a significant drop in overseas trade, the same tons have been exported up to the end of March as by the same point last season (2.86 million tons). In the absence of official statistics, the Citrus Management Committee (CGC), the national association that integrates the main non-cooperative exporters, assumes that this double-digit growth rate continued in April. “The Government recognised the sector as an essential activity, the coronavirus demanded extraordinary efforts to respond to the challenge and overcome the enormous difficulties of all kinds that exist, but it is evident that we have risen to challenge,” said the CGC director general, Immaculate Sanfeliu.

Although it is still too early to take stock of the season because the commercial activity of the warehouses will still continue in the coming months, it is foreseeable that the harvest season will end this year between a month and a month and a half before the from last year. With the figures available so far, it can already be stated that, with 276,701 tons, the third month of 2020 – that of the outbreak of the coronavirus in all of Europe – was also the second best month of March ever recorded in oranges (behind the of 2015 with 287,900 tons and 17% above that of 2019). In tangerines, meanwhile, the monthly rebound in the volume of foreign sales has been less (+ 7%) but has allowed to recover the 25% drop accumulated so far this season compared to the previous one. It should be remembered that all this has been achieved in a short season in terms of the expected harvest, with a reduction compared to the 2018/19 balance of 23.9% in citrus in general, 22.4% in oranges and 28.9% in tangerines. And that has also been achieved despite the collapse of sales in important destinations beyond the EU, such as the US (due to the imposed tariffs) or China (due to the outbreak of the health crisis). “In times of extreme difficulty, the Spanish sector has once again demonstrated that it is the safest European supplier, with the most stable and high quality standards and that we managed to obtain perhaps the most optimal utilization rates,” said Sanfeliu.

The merit of these figures, based on the exceptional circumstances experienced, is undoubted. Even before the State of Alarm came into force on March 16, since the slogan #yomequedoencasa began to permeate Spanish society, there was an initial rebound in demand in the domestic market. When, within a few days, the confinement measures were extended from Spain and Italy to most of the EU Member States, the wave of ‘urgency’ orders, of purchases with a compulsory component, spread to the rest of the continent. In those days, the persistence of the rains forced to suspend harvesting in almost all citrus areas. The restrictions in mobility also complicated the harvesting of the fruit and forced operators to charter vans and buses. In the warehouses, meanwhile, there was a frantic race to supply masks, to adapt to constantly changing regulations, and to implement new biosafety protocols to avoid contagion. The rains and the reduction in productivity per employee due to social distancing and disinfection measures raised costs and forced employees to work in shifts, at weekends, and do more overtime. Transporting to Europe involved queues and delays caused by the new borders and sanitary controls erected in Central Europe. But the supply to Europe was never broken.

TAGS: citrus, Spain, exports, COVID-19, CGC

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CGC calls on EU to do more to fight black spot

Valencian citrus association CGC has demanded radical EU measures to combat negra black spot after 2,000ha were found to be infected in Tunisia. The area in Nabeul (Tunisia), the first in the Mediterranean, demonstrates how the dangerous fungus adapts to our climate. According to the CGC, this should force the EC to rectify and include this pathogen in the list of priority pests. Given the seriousness of the threat and the fifth port interception, the CGC demands that European imports from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and South Africa be suspended as the pathogen is endemic in these countries.

Contrary to what was previously believed, the ‘black spot’ has now been shown that is does adapt to the Mediterranean climate. In fact, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) today issued an alert confirming that the Tunisian authorities have officially declared an area infected by this fungus. In the opinion of the Citrus Management Committee (CGC), the association that represents the main private exporters in the country, the finding should force the European Commission (EC) to take immediate measures and take a “radical shift” to raise the level of regulation requirements for citrus fruit arriving from the main supplier countries to the EU.

 

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Spain’s CGC bemoans country’s “irrelevance” in plant health and accuses IVIA of turning its back on the export sector

The European Commission (EC) has recently appointed the five centres or consortiums that will serve as European Reference Laboratories (EURL) in the field of plant health. These entities will be responsible for performing the analyses to confirm possible positive by pests and diseases from the samples taken in the ports to the horticultural imports of third countries or phytosanitary controls in the field. Well, despite the evident strategic importance of such designations, the Ministry of Agriculture has not presented candidatures in favour of any Spanish centre. Thus, most of EURL has been left to the centres of non-producing Member States, rather, large fruit and vegetable importers. This has happened with the Netherlands, which will now be responsible for setting analytical methods and for confirming on a community scale the possible cases that could occur in pathogens as serious as Xylella, Huanglongming (HLB) or Citrus canker. In the opinion of the president of the Citrus Management Committee (CGC), Manuel Arrufat, the “passivity demonstrated” by the Spanish authorities when applying to entities such as the IVIA -which is the national centre of reference in bacteriosis such as those cited- “Evidence of the irrelevance of Spain in the field of plant health”.

The CGC (Comite de Gestion de Citricos) of Spain is angry that the country has not applied for any of the five new EU reference laboratories for pests and diseases: decision centres and technical knowledge about controls on diseases such as Xylella or HLB are now in the hands of importing countries such as the Netherlands. Moreover, the CGC has highlighted that the draft bill to reform the IVIA continues to exclude from its governing bodies the CGC, whose members have a large production – almost 70% of exports – which will divert private investment from the centre.

 

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HLB bacteria could destroy Spanish citrus in 15 years

HLB bacteria could destroy Spanish citrus in 15 years

HLB bacteria could destroy Spanish citrus in 15 years

The Comité de Gestion Citricos (CGC) warns that the arrival of the HLB bacteria would make the Spanish citrus industry disappear in 15 years. A report based on data on the progress of this disease in Florida (USA) warns that its settlement in Spain would halve domestic production within seven years. The insect that spreads this disease – which has no cure and that kills the trees in a few years –has extended its presence from Galicia to Lisbon (Portugal). The exporters demand immediate action to stop the rapid expansion and to reinforce the control to imported material that could be contaminated.

Citrus greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) is the main threat to citrus growing, but the Mediterranean is the only large productive area that, for the moment, has not been affected by the emergence of this bacterium. The situation turned upside down in 2014, when the presence in Galicia was confirmed, not of the disease but of one of the two vectors known to be capable of transmitting it, the Trioza erytreae. In 2015, the Portuguese authorities discovered another focus of this insect near Oporto. Today, four years later, this psyllid from Africa has travelled almost the entire Atlantic coast between La Coruña and the Lisbon area, 190 km from the first Spanish citrus plantations (Huelva) and only 170 km from the main producing province of citrus fruits of Portugal, the Algarve. Aware of the seriousness of the situation, the Citrus Management Committee (CGC), the national association that brings together private citrus exporters, has estimated the economic impact derived from the possible entry of this pathogen into the Spanish citrus industry. Their conclusions, given the inexistence of a cure and the experience contrasted in Florida (USA) -whose evolution has been extrapolated – are almost apocalyptic: in 7.5 years from its possible entry, the production of oranges, tangerines and lemons would be reduced by half (from 7 to 3.6 million tons) and in 15 years the citriculture would become a residual crop.

The report is based on the complete historical series of production data from 28 seasons in Florida, which is the only one that is available at that level of detail from among the main citrus powers affected by the disease (such as Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, La India or China). In the US state, the presence of the HLB was confirmed in 2005 but the disease must have settled years before: in the campaign 1997/98, Florida reached its production record with 12.3 million tons. At present, this figure has been reduced to 25%, with a little more than 3 million tons (see attached graph). In view of this progression, it is estimated that the production of Florida – the first producer of orange juice in the world – could disappear in the 2024/25 season (if there are no solutions to alleviate the disease beforehand).