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The decision to halt exports to the EU comes after ten incidents in which citrus black spot disease was detected on South African citrus, the CGA’s chief executive Justin Chadwick said in a statement.
Chadwick said the voluntary decision was meant to safeguard South Africa’s long-term access to the EU, its biggest export market, which accounts for over 40% of orange shipments and 27% of soft citrus, according to South Africa’s National Agricultural Marketing Council.
“With a month left of the current export season, the CGA and the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum boards have taken the decision to voluntarily close the export of Valencia oranges from citrus black spot affected areas in South Africa to the EU starting 16 September 2022,” Chadwick said.
South Africa’s citrus sector, which generates R30 billion ($1,73 billion) in annual exports and employs 130 000 people, has this year struggled with high costs for fuel, fertiliser and shipping, as well as rule changes implemented by the EU in June.
The EU implemented new phytosanitary rules requiring enhanced cold treatment for orange imports from Africa, amid concerns over false coddling moth (FCM), a pest which affects citrus fruit. The move disrupted shipments from South Africa, which initiated a dispute settlement case at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the matter.
The dispute was eventually settled after negotiations by the two parties, clearing 1 350 shipping containers of citrus fruit which had been stuck at EU ports for weeks.
The standoff cost South African citrus growers nearly $12 million, Chadwick said. – Reuters