"The imposition of 'cold treatment' on South African citrus shipments to guarantee the absence of pests is non-negotiable"

Intercitrus wants to make clear, "in the face of the apparent ignorance shown by the European Commission (EC) during the last Phytosanitary Committee (on November 18 and 19), that the imposition of cold treatment to guarantee the absence of certain pests, such as the false moth or Thaumatotibia leucotreta (FCM) is non-negotiable insofar as it is a fully guaranteed measure that is commonly used in the international fruit trade." It is a standardized system that is internationally recognized, so much so that currently 19 states demand it for imports of 90 products of 11 genres.

In fact, South Africa conducts cold treatment in transit to export its citrus to those states that demand it. This fact was stated by the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture before the aforementioned committee and subsequently reiterated by the president of Intercitrus, Inmaculada Sanfeliu, in the meeting held with other members of the sector, the Valencian Government, and the general director of Health and Safety Food of the EC, Sandra Gallina, on November 24.

The estimated cost of applying this system against FCM in South African orange and mandarin exports to Europe would stand between € 0.03 and € 0.04/kg. "It is an affordable cost. Spanish exporters pay this amount, as well as many other extra costs derived from protocols much more demanding than European standards, to reach the majority of large third markets that also have citrus fruits and want to protect them against foreign pests," Sanfeliu stated.

"The record numbers of South African citrus shipments headed to the EU intercepted with FCM and black spot have opened a debate between the member countries. The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture of Spain strongly defended the application of cold treatment in transit for exports to the EU from the southern country. He was backed up by Portugal, France, and Italy. Meanwhile, the Netherlands was in favor of maintaining the current systems approach and working with the South African sector to improve it. The Commission continued to have doubts in this regard and called on to continue studying the matter in a new session of the Permanent Phytosanitary Committee."

Intercitrus stated it trusts the debate will remain strictly technical and that other geopolitical factors, such as the interests of certain Central European lobbies, will not contaminate the matter. In this regard, the interprofessional regretted that the EC echoed the letter of three associations of importers of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, which repeated -almost word for word- the arguments that the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa put forward against the imposition of cold treatment a few days before the meeting of the Phytosanitary Committee.

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