SA takes up citrus black spot issue

Citrus Trade

South Africa has raised the issue of the European Union’s regulations on Citrus Black Spot at the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

This as the EU has threatened to refuse entry to citrus fruit exports from South Africa, alleging that the fruits found with traces of black spot on peels pose a risk to the EU citrus producers.

“The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has expressed the view that the EU stance is fundamentally driven by protectionist, rather than plant health concerns and is aimed at restricting highly competitive citrus imports from South Africa to the benefit of citrus producers in the EU,” dti spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said on Thursday.

Minister Davies has said that there is no scientific consensus that supports the EU’s claim that citrus black spot found on peels could infect European orchards.

He has also pointed out that proposals from South Africa to divide the EU into different zones with stricter regulations for imports into citrus growing areas in southern Europe had been ignored.

“Minister Davies is of the view that South Africa has been left with no option other than to elevate the issue to the WTO,” said Medupe.

In an interview with SAnews in June, Minister Davies said government has been engaging to try to get the European Union to be more sensitive to the employment implications.

“We have also made it clear in the past that we are aware that there’s no unambiguous science about citrus black spot. It can’t cause any harm to human health,” he said at the time.

The South African citrus industry exports around 100 million cartons to 45 countries, which generates R6 billion of foreign exchange; but 45% of that total goes to the EU. –