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Uncertainty and hope for community citrus in the review of the EU-South Africa Agreement

The Trade, Development, and Cooperation Agreement (CDCA) between the EU and South Africa will be reviewed in October 2021 to study possible modifications. A long-awaited date for the community citrus sector.

The ACDC establishes a preferential regime between the EU and South Africa, with the progressive establishment of a free trade area (FTA). It's worth noting that the EU is South Africa's main partner, both in the field of trade and investment. It also provides for the liberalization, within 10 years, of 95% of the EU's imports from South Africa and, within 12 years, of 86% of South Africa's imports from the EU.

However, the agreement allows both parties to adopt safeguard measures when the importation of a product may cause serious damage at the national level, as well as provisions aimed at preventing abuses by companies that have a dominant position in the market, thus guaranteeing free competition between the companies from the EU and South Africa.

According to the "Uncertainty and hope for community citrus in the review of the EU-South Africa Agreement" report written by the technical agricultural engineer M.ª Jose Maluenda Garcia, which analyzes the data on the trade carried out between both blocks since the signing of the agreement, South African fruit imports to the EU accounted for 64.6% of the value of all of the agri-food sector's imports in 2020; a very high percentage that is very competitive with community production and mainly for Spain, the leading producer and exporter of the fruit and vegetable sector.

The main exported species were citrus, with a 45.7% share within this segment, followed by grapes (28.1%), avocados (7.1%), and apples and pears (6.6%).

In fact, the citrus growing sector has seen a strong increase in the last six seasons, driven mainly by attractive investment returns, crop margins, and strong global demand. As a result, between the 2015/16 and 2020/21 campaigns, the South African citrus sector increased its production by 57.4% and its exports by 47%, according to data prepared by the author from the USDA.

Since the beginning of the agreement, the Spanish citrus sector has denounced the economic damages caused by the entry of citrus from South Africa to the EU and, together with representatives of the citrus sector from Italy, France, and Portugal, have requested their respective Ministries of Agriculture to defend an exhaustive and objective investigation within the European Commission and the European Parliament, with a view to the revision of the agreement in October, coinciding with the five years of its entry into force.

You can read the full report here.



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