South Africa to appeal EU decision to reintroduce orange import regulations

The South African Citrus Growers Association (CGA) has announced that it will appeal the decision of the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed to reintroduce new import regulationsconcerning the entry of the false codling moth (FCM) pest.

Although the regulations were previously withdrawn on April 29, 2022, due to what the CGA called “inherent flaws”, member state ministers voted to reintroduce them at a DG Agri meeting in Brussels on May 3 and underlined the need for the new “necessary, justified, proportionate and practicable” measures.

However, in a newsletter, the CGA claimed that the measures imposed on South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe “do not meet any of these criteria” and suggested that the decision was politically motivated, saying that “politics often trumps science”.

Firstly, the CGA pointed out that “South Africa applies a sophisticated systems approach to FCM risk management, which already includes various cold treatment protocols”, indicating that the new regulations were not “necessary”.

Second, the association suggested that the measures were unjustified, arguing that “there is no crisis regarding FCM interceptions relating to citrus imports”, given that there has been a decrease in reported interceptions over the past three years, the length of time FCM has been a quarantine pest.

Third, the CGA said that “the proposed measures would have a significant impact on South African exports to the EU”, implying that they are disproportionate. “Clearly there are less trade-restrictive and equally effective measures, such as the continuation of the existing systemic approach, which has been further strengthened ahead of the 2022 season,” he added.

Finally, the South African association suggested that the EU regulations were not “workable”, as “86.6% of South African oranges exported to the EU in 2021 were loaded under codes specified in the risk management system that do not require pre-cooling”.

“This does not mean that this fruit presents a particular phytosanitary risk: the use of these codes is only possible if the fruit meets the necessary specifications set out in the systems approach”, underlined the CGA.

The SCOPAFF decision is expected to come into force on July 14.

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