The lack of standard inspection criteria for the entry of citrus fruits into the European Union has caused the Port of Cartagena to lose up to 65,000 tons of lemon imports last season.
As warned by the Port Authority in a statement, the high number of interceptions in the port in recent months, especially of lemons from South America, due to the controls to prevent the entry of pests, and the fact that the inspection criteria change depending on the port, has resulted in some ships "changing their destination up to three times, seeking those ports where the inspections won't be as strict."
Thus, it has been shown "that third-country operators can decide, even on the fly, the European port where they want to unload based on the conditions they will get."
The institution said that this situation is having "serious consequences for the Region." On the one hand, the citrus sector feels unprotected when citrus fruits from other countries arrive without having been duly inspected, and on the other, the Port of Cartagena is losing market share.
The Port Authority warned that "the work carried out by the plant inspection services in Spain may come to nothing if citrus fruits from Argentina affected by various diseases reach the Region of Murcia by truck from third countries of the EU."
For this reason, the public body urged to seek "a single legislation in all European countries and the application of the same phytosanitary conditions for the entry of citrus fruits from third countries."