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Spanish fruit and vegetable exports to China have fallen by 90% in the last five years

It's likely that, following the announcement that the EU will impose tariffs on electric car imports from China, this country will respond with other measures. These measures are still unknown, but there is speculation that China could impose tariffs on EU agri-food imports.

Spain exported 4,271 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to China in 2023, i.e. 17% less than in the previous year, a volume that only accounts for 0.003% of the 11.3 million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables that the country exported in 2023. The value stood at 6.3 million euros (-11%), according to data from the Customs and Excise Department processed by FEPEX.

Fruit and vegetable sales to China have decreased strongly in the last five years, going from 43,721 tons in 2019 to 4,251 tons in 2023, i.e. 90% less. In value, sales to China decreased by 82%, going from 56.3 million euros in 2019 to 8.3 million euros in 2023.

According to FEPEX, China is a residual market for the Spanish fruit and vegetable export sector mainly because of its protectionist trade policy, based on non-tariff barriers that are more effective than tariff barriers, which practically prevent consolidating high volumes of shipments.

Exporting fruits and vegetables from Spain to China requires negotiating bilateral protocols, including the phytosanitary requirements that must be met to export to this country. Currently, this market is open to Spanish stone fruit (peach, plum, nectarine), grape, citrus, persimmon, and almond exports. Completing these protocols also involves years of negotiation and must be carried out on a unitary basis for each product, since China does not allow the negotiation of one group of products at a time.

China is also the world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables, exceeding 769 million tons, according to consolidated FAO data for 2021.


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