Representatives of the political party Compromís and of Valencian agricultural organizations met last Thursday at the headquarters of the former in order to discuss the problems that the citrus sector is facing, and have demanded the end of the agreement between the European Union and South Africa.
MEP Jordi Sebastià said that they will keep pushing for this in Brussels, since the agreement with South Africa "is having catastrophic consequences."
Sebastià stated that the European Union's trade policy with the African country is "taking a severe toll on Valencian producers, who will hardly have a chance, given that they are not competing with the same rules."
After recalling that South African citrus fruits will arrive tariff-free from 2026, the MEP explained that while local producers "are asked to meet a series of socio-labor, environmental and health standards, those from third countries are exempt; therefore, their production will always be cheaper."
The meeting was also attended by the spokesperson of Compromís in the Spanish Congress, Joan Baldoví, as well as by La Unió de Llauradors, the Valencian Association of Agricultural Producers (AVA), Anecoop, the Federation of Cooperatives and the Citrus Management Committee.
"What we want is actual measures, and this will only happen if the Ministry of Agriculture gets to work to address the issue," said Baldoví.
The deputy, who said that when he goes to Madrid, he still finds "oranges from South Africa on the shelves while the Valencian citrus campaign is in full swing," asked for tax benefits to be granted to those producers who've been left with unharvested oranges.
For his part, the president of AVA, Cristóbal Aguado, said that these meetings are worthwhile, because they "look deeper into the consequences of international treaties," and recalled that the agreement signed with South Africa was approved in the European Parliament with the vote in favor of the popular group, the socialist group and the liberals, where the Bloc (part of Compromís) was at that time.
Aguado criticized how the current administrations are handling the issue and pointed out that compared to two years ago, "the Government of Valencia and the Spanish Government are hardly making any effort at all."
The general secretary of La Unió, Carles Peris, has described these meetings as "positive" and said that the Law of the Agro-Food Chain "is inefficient and needs to be improved."