Brazil vetoed imports of EU plums to control a pest that has no incidence on this fruit and that has not been detected in EU producing countries, such as Spain. The veto, which entered into force on June 1, is especially damaging to Extremadura, the continent's main plum-producing region, as the Brazilian market was its most important client. Every year Extremadura sends 24% of its production to Brazil, i.e. between 18,000 and 22,000 tons of plums worth around 24 million.
The Association of Fruit Growers of Extremadura, AFRUEX, confirmed that the Spanish Government had requested explanations about this veto. Likewise, the plenary session of the European Commission on Thursday the 16th requested Brazil explain the closure of borders, according to the agenda of the meeting.
The European Commission sent its request to Brazil and the World Trade Organization (WTO), as they consider the closure of borders violated international regulations because it was enforced without complying with the 60-day waiting period to close them contemplated by said regulations. The measure was announced a few days before it was enforced and it has already affected the export of the earliest plum varieties. The only alternative now is reaching a solution that at least saves the export of the latest varieties.
"The damage has already been done. The earliest varieties have been lost and the price has sunk. However, we are confident that the late varieties can be saved," stated Miguel Angel Gomez, the manager of Afruex.
Moreover, Chinese authorities inspected stone fruit crops in Extremadura and Murcia to supervise that Spanish producers comply with the protocols to export this fruit to the Asian country. The inspections are routine controls, which had not been carried out for three years when the commercial relationship began. This time, however, they were carried out by videoconference due to the impossibility of the inspectors going to the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The inspection revealed no problems that could endanger the nearly 600 tons of plum that Extremadura exports to China every year.