EU ‘black spot’ ban could affect SA citrus industry jobs – Rob Davies

2013-07-16 17:17

The monitoring of citrus products with black spot disease by the European Union is of great concern, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has said.

“We have tried to make a representation to them to say that there needs to be greater flexibility at this point. But they have not shown any great willingness to respond,” Davies told a briefing in Pretoria during the South Africa-European Union (SA-EU) Summit this afternoon.

A ban on these products could affect jobs in South Africa’s citrus industry, said Davies.

The citrus industry employs 40 000 permanent employees and 40 000 seasonal workers, he said.

The products with the spots on their peels were unlikely to affect the EU orchards, he added.

Meanwhile, South Africa will push for the extension of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

If the EU fails to renew its preferential trade agreement with the SADC countries, the economies of our neighbouring countries would also be hurt, said Davies.

He said the biggest issue for South Africa was obtaining access for its agricultural and agroprocessing products.

This included 33 agricultural products it was negotiating for.

Davies said the negotiations were continuing, but that there were still outstanding issues of “give and take”.

The EPAs expire in October next year when the term of the current EU leaders expires.

Tomorrow’s SA-EU business forum will be attended by almost 200 businesses from both markets.

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