Is Spanish agriculture a victim of EU-Third Country agreements? According to many producers, these pacts have indeed become a threat to the sector, seeing how competition from outside the EU market is growing.
The complaints logically don't refer to the recent trade agreements with Canada or Japan, which are not competitors, but to those that have given a boost to the entry of citrus fruits and other fruits from South Africa, Egypt or Morocco, flowers from Kenya or bananas from Ecuador, whose seasons partly overlap with the Spanish.
Regarding the inclusion of Western Sahara in the latest EU-Morocco agreement, the European Commission (EC) said in a report in 2018 that it was justified by the economic and labor benefits for the Saharawi population, and predicted that, in the medium term, the acreage devoted to fruit and vegetable cultivation in the area could increase from the current 900 hectares to 5,000, and the production volume from 64,000 to 500,000 tons.
Spain, which years ago received the nickname of the "Orchard of Europe", is now also keeping a close eye on the situation created by Brexit and its postponement, as well as on the negotiations with Mercosur and the increase of US tariffs on EU olives (which could now be extended to citrus fruits, wine and cheese) and those from Brazil on garlic.
The main agricultural associations, Cooperativas Agroalimentarias, Asaja, COAG and UPA, have also criticized the reduction of profit margins caused by the increase in EU imports from Turkey or Egypt, which adds to the loss of the Russian market due to its veto on the European fruit and vegetable production, in force since 2014.
They denounce that foreign competition, with its lower production costs, not only causes the EU to have a greater supply, but can also lead to the entry of pests, such as citrus 'black spot', or of products of dubious quality, such as Chinese honey.