SA discusses fruit exports to the EU
Fin24/ Sapa - Jun 11th, 07:59
Brussels - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the European Commission vice president Baroness Catherine Ashton are having talks behind closed doors at the European external affairs headquarters in Belgium's capital.
International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: "During the meeting they will focus on political and trade relations between South Africa and the EU."
Mashabane would also raise the issue of citrus exports.
Monyela said 70% of the EU's citrus consumption came from South Africa: "South Africa believes it would not cut exports of citrus."
The European Union wants to stop some imports from South Africa, like citrus fruit, South Africa’s ambassador to Belgium, Mxolisi Nkosi, said on Sunday.
He said there was a trend of rising protectionism being used by the EU to block some exports, including citrus exports.
Nkosi said the citrus sector contributed about R6bn to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The rise in citrus production was mainly due to the increase in cultivation areas, packaging and transport improvements and preferences for healthier food options.
But citrus harvesting and production in most of Europe continues to decline, particularly at this time of the year due to climate conditions.
South Africa is the world’s biggest exporter of whole oranges and the largest shipper of grapefruit.
"This is a big business," Nkosi said.
Citrus imports were halted after some shipments of fruit tainted with a disease that affected the external appearance of the fruit.
The EU in 1993 declared citrus black spot, a phyto-sanitary measure, meaning it was placed on a trade watch-list at EU borders.
If spotty fruit had been found, the consignment would have been impounded and this meant citrus exports to the EU fell.
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