The Spanish citrus fruits' diversification of markets in distant destinations is an alternative to avoid saturating the EU markets. However, the high logistics costs and bureaucratic complications associated with exporting mean that, in many cases, the theoretical openings of distant markets doesn't materialize.
The Unió de Llauradors complained that the complex administrative procedures to export citrus to third countries cost the Spanish sector some 5.2 million euro per year. Meanwhile, third countries don't have to incur in any additional management or control costs to export their product to the EU, which receives them with open arms.
The agrarian organization denounced the difference in treatment due to lack of reciprocity, which clearly harms the interests of European citrus production, in this case, the one from Spain and Valencia, and accuses Brussels of not applying equal treatment to competition, and the Spanish Government of not negotiating effectively.
La Unió recalled that despite repeated efforts, 94% of exports go to other EU countries. "Countries like the US, China, Japan, South Korea, or Australia impose severe specific protocols that act as barriers and make shipments more expensive at an average of 9 euro cents per kilo."
This extra cost comes from having to bear the extra costs of referencing fields, pre-audit and inspector movements, assistance from translators, cold treatments, additional phytosanitary procedures, on-site inspection, sending documentation, and traveling to the Border Inspection Post, among other things. Some of the most severe protocols are those of Japan and Mexico, "where it is practically a miracle to export any quantity of citrus." In 2019 not a kilo was sold to Mexico and only 7 tons were shipped to Japan.
Since Spain has, like the rest of the EU, the highest parameters of quality, phytosanitary control, environmental care and respect for human rights, it is inexplicable that this imbalance should continue. Carles Peris, Secretary-General of the Union, stated: "We do not understand how third countries require protocols so rigorous that they do not have reciprocity from the EU, which is a comparative grievance and shows that the Government of Spain does not do its homework well when it comes to negotiating."