SA government lodges WTO dispute about EU citrus clampdown

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Estimates are that the new EU measures have already impacted an estimated 3.2 million cartons of citrus valued at R605 million.
Estimates are that the new EU measures have already impacted an estimated 3.2 million cartons of citrus valued at R605 million.
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  • The SA government has lodged a dispute with the World Trade Organisation regarding measures implemented by the European Union concerning citrus imports.
  • In June the EU voted in a new requirement that will force southern African countries to implement extreme cold treatment to tackle false codling moth.
  • The SA government identified what it regards as 21 inconsistencies in the EU's new proposed measures.
  • Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday, or go to the Fin24 front page.

The SA government has lodged a dispute with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over measures suddenly implemented by the European Union (EU) around citrus imports from SA, according to the Citrus Growers' Association (CGA) of South Africa.

CGA CEO Justin Chadwick said a consultation with the WTO has been requested by the SA government to address the measures.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) confirmed to Fin24 on Thursday afternoon that the SA government has submitted a request for consultation with the EU in terms of the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).

According to Chadwick, in its request, the SA government identified what it regards as 21 inconsistencies in the EU's new proposed phytosanitary measures. Chadwick estimates that the new EU measures have already impacted an estimated 3.2 million cartons of citrus valued at R605 million. He says there are reports of hundreds of containers of SA citrus being detained by authorities in the EU on arrival. 

"Without immediate political intervention, the threat remains that these consignments will be destroyed by EU authorities," warns Chadwick.  

In June the EU voted in a new requirement that will force southern African countries to implement extreme cold treatment to tackle false codling moth (FCM). The CGA views the new regulations misguided and heavy-handed. It said its management protocols have effectively protected against pests and diseases.

In the view of Chadwick, these new EU measures are too drastic and "arguably misinformed".

Despite numerous objections from several other countries, including European markets that currently import SA oranges, these new regulations were published in the Official Journal of the European Union with an implementation date of 14 July 2022. 

"The fact that EU authorities attempted to enforce these new regulations a mere 23 days after publication made it impossible for SA growers to ensure their compliance, and highlights how unjustified and discriminatory this legislation is, with devastating consequences to our local citrus industry," Chadwick said in a statement.

"This crisis not only threatens the sustainability and profitability of local growers and the 140 000 jobs the industry sustains locally, but will also result in less and more expensive citrus in European supermarkets."

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