The South African citrus industry has taken note that the EU Commission will undertake an analysis into whether imported third country citrus requires the activation of a trade safeguard measure in the form of increased import tariffs, as has been reported, to protect the local European citrus industry.
According to an industry insider, the South African industry believes that a review of the data will show that South African citrus doesn’t pose a risk of unfair competition to European citrus, and that a safeguard clause is not warranted in this case.
Safeguard clauses in international trade agreements exist to protect local industries against undue or unfair import competition, but the counter-seasonal nature of South African citrus in the Northern Hemisphere means that it is not in direct competition with European citrus.
In fact, the local industry points out, South African citrus retains the commodity’s shelf space and stimulates year-round consumption, thereby enhancing the market position of Spanish citrus growers. This has enabled increased consumer loyalty to citrus due to its continual supply, instead of the historic seasonal switching to other fruit categories.
“South Africa, just like Spain, has improved their cultivar proposition mix to align with consumer preference and that drives consumer choice,” the industry insider says. “South Africa has been exporting citrus to Europe for more than a hundred years, there's nothing new to the trade. The growth has been gradual as the demand for South African citrus fruit increased."
The shoulder seasons between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have largely disappeared as new cultivars are supplied to consumers during these periods. Consequently, increased competition during the historic shoulder seasons has increased, but it’s a normal and repeated occurrence in any market development, he notes.