While the citrus sector demands that the safeguard clause of the free trade agreement with South Africa be activated for next summer and insists that the South African oranges and mandarins that arrive in the EU comply with the same phytosanitary and labor conditions required from European producers, the South African citrus lobby is demanding a looser phytosanitary control for the fruit they export.
On November 27, a South African delegation suggested the European Union (EU) relax the controls that are carried out to prevent the entry of the black spot into the community. If this quarantine fungus (which is non-existent in Spain) entered the community, it would cause spots on the skin of the citrus fruit and make it commercially unviable.
South African exporters said the EU had only intercepted two shipments with black spot in this campaign and asked to manage this pest in a more economic way. However, according to business sources that were consulted about this, a year with less interceptions is not enough to change the protocol. The European Commission didn't accept the proposals, among other things, because the number of rejections in Brazil, Argentina, has been very high.
According to South African exporters, the 119 million euro they invest in the treatment against the black spot is an astronomical cost at a time when their production is going up and when they have exported a record 800,000 tons to the EU.
However, both Spanish exporters and farmers see the increase in exports as a threat to indigenous products; not only because of the threat of the arrival of the disease but also because labor costs in the countries of the southern hemisphere are much lower than in Spain, which is considered unfair competition.
Business sources find it outrageous that South Africa calls for a reduction in the controls of the black spot. "The costs of complying with the protocols in the United States and Asia are very high but we must comply or we can't export."
South Africa, which this campaign exceeded the two million tons of exports for the first time, plans to export 2.5 million tons in three years due to the increase in cultivated area.