Citrus exporters feel squeeze of hasty EU embargo


Citrus industry

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – SOME Southern African countries are bearing the brunt of measures by the European Union (EU) to restrict citrus imports from Africa.

The restrictions are part of EU’s protectionist measures on agriculture.

In July, the EU changed its plant safety regulations without notifying its citrus trading partners within a reasonable time.

Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist at Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), noted the new regulation purports to protect the EU from a quarantine organism, the false codling moth, by introducing stringent new cold treatment requirements, particularly on citrus imports from Africa.

“This mainly affects South Africa, Zimbabwe and Eswatini,” he said.

The agro expert said South Africa had put rigorous measures in place to control the false codling moth, which the EU uses as a pretext to restrict citrus imports from Africa and to protect Spain.

“In the past couple of weeks of July and into August, South Africa citrus growers struggled to access the EU market because of these regulation changes,” Sihlobo said.

He mentioned the breakthrough for the shipments stranded in the EU waters came in the second week of August.

According to the economist, the challenge of the new regulations remains for export activity in the months ahead.

“The solution to this requires continuous and intensified engagement by the South Africa government with the EU authorities,” Sihlobo said.

Overall, South Africa’s agricultural export activity is projected to soften this year from the 2021 record of $12,4 billion.

Apart from restrictions by the EU, other factors are lower production of key crops, the spread of animal disease.

Agbiz reported that South Africa’s agricultural exports for the first five months of 2022 amounted to $5,06 billion, up just 2 percent from the corresponding period in 2021.

The EU, United Kingdom (UK), Japan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as several African countries were the primary markets. Citrus, maize, apples, pears, wine, nuts and wool were the dominant products.

– CAJ News


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