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How will Brexit affect Italy’s fresh produce?

How will Brexit affect Italy’s fresh produce? © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution


Italy’s fresh produce sector is following with great interest the negotiations underway to seal a trade deal between the EU and the UK. Last week, an online conference titled “Great Britain outside the European Union: What changes for fruit and vegetable operators from 1 January 2021″, organised by Cso Italy, Fruitimprese and Dcs Tramaco, over 120 people took part.

President of Cso Italy Paolo Bruni said, “In the last five years, exports of fruit and vegetables from Italy to the UK have exceeded 140,000 tons per year, including over 100,000 tons of the most widely produced fruits.”

Marco Salvi, president of Fruitimprese, said, “A radical reform, even if not yet fully defined due to the prolonged negotiations between the parties, which we hope will soon be concluded with a free trade agreement. For Italian fruit and vegetables, the United Kingdom represents the sixth export market in terms of volumes and the fourth in terms of turnover, with a value of over €250 million per year, generated primarily by the export of apples, table grapes and kiwis.”

The transition will involve introducing new customs controls in three stages, with full application from 1 July 2021.

Paolo Triossi, managing director of DCS Tramaco, said: “In January, the new procedures in the fruit and vegetable sector will concern the exchanges of seed and consumption potatoes, while for all the other products there is still a few months available. This is precious time that operators have at their disposal so as not to be caught unprepared. The advice is to have an Eori (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) code, to contact a customs broker and to clarify some points in advance with your local business partner.”

As long as uncertainty persists regarding a trade deal, it will be impossible to establish certain critical measures to take, particularly with regard to logistics and transport.

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Italy boosts its links with China

Freshfel Europe and CIQA workshop in Beijing with the participation of CSO ITALY, ASSOMELA, ORANFRIZER and FRUITIMPRESE for a common project for the development of trade relations between Italy and China

Excellent results for the workshop organized by Freshfel Europe and the China Entry & Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) in Beijing, aiming to create a shared knowledge base for future trade relations, to understand respective production systems, and above all to and explore the four basic pillars for trade between the two countries—market access, phytosanitary policies and requirements, food safety policies and requirements, and specific procedures for various products.

The format of the workshop, particularly effective and highly appreciated, focused on all the major themes regarding trade between Europe and China, with bilateral presentations followed by discussions, and with contributions from Woo Huao, director of the AQSIQ Biosecurity Division, Jerome Lepeintre, head of the Agricultural Section of the EU Delegation to China, and Ms Li Li, director of the Economic Crop Division of the Chinese Agricultural Ministry.

Italy presented an overview of the current situation for kiwifruit, apples, pears and citrus fruits as part of the Business Case session, dedicated to businesses and problems in trade relations.

“We had the opportunity,” declared Simona Rubbi, CSO ITALY’s officer for the opening of new markets, “to present a clear and analytical outline of the situation for exports of Italian produce to China, with the excellent performance of kiwifruit in general and the growth in particular of yellow kiwifruit, and the great potential for the development of the market for pears, apples and citrus fruits.”

“With regard to citrus fruits,” said Salvo Laudani, Oranfrizer’s Marketing Manager and president of Fruitimprese Sicilia, “we clearly described the current situation, asking for the agreement between China and Italy signed in January 2016 to be applied to the campaign now in progress, and for the agreement to be extended to include the possibility in future of transporting citrus fruits not only by sea but also by air or rail. This opening is vital to guarantee the arrival of products of excellent quality, and I’m convinced that the Beijing workshop offered us a great opportunity in this area.”

In the sector of apples and pears, it was highlighted that in March 2015, the Italian ministry sent an official communication to the Chinese authorities requesting the official opening of export negotiations, but that no reply has yet been received.

“We took the occasion of the workshop,” said Giulia Montanaro of Assomela, “to stress the desirability of starting joint negotiations for both apples and pears with the greatest urgency.”

The Italian delegation highly appreciated the presence and concrete support offered by First Secretary Enrico Berti and Raffaella Danielato of the Economic and Trade Department of the Italian Embassy in Beijing, and also of the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Policies.

In addition, the representatives of the six countries participating in the mission clearly reiterated the need for EU-led negotiations, despite China maintaining once again that discussions must be pursued independently by each EU member state.

In overall terms, the Freshfel Europe workshop achieved its aims, highlighting the opportunities offered by an immense market, but above all the need to adopt an approach of constant discussion and exchange with the Chinese authorities to ensure an even fuller understanding of the production methods, plant defence techniques and transport and logistics systems of the Italian fruit and vegetable sector.