SOUTH AFRICA – The Citrus Growers Association of South Africa (CGA)’s projections suggest that the citrus sector could produce an additional 100 million 15kg cartons over the next eight years, generating an extra R20 billion (USD 1.05 billion) in annual revenue but this potential may be lost if the EU market shrinks.

Moreover, according to the association, if all industry stakeholders collaborate, the increased annual revenue will create approximately 100,000 new jobs.

These projections re in response to the already initiated consultations by South Africa with the European Union (EU) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding phytosanitary trade regulations affecting South African citrus exports.

The dispute centers on the EU’s measures against Citrus Black Spot (CBS), a fungal infection that can cause cosmetic damage to fruit.

Despite scientific evidence indicating that CBS does not pose a threat to the fruit itself, the EU continues to impose strict measures on South African citrus growers.

The South African government’s action aims to protect the citrus industry, which supports the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

The government, along with the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA), believes the EU’s regulations are burdensome and unjustified.

Compliance with the EU’s stringent spray programs and inspections has resulted in significant financial strain on the industry.

Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, emphasized the critical role of the citrus industry in sustaining rural economies across South Africa. She stated that the industry cannot afford the nearly R2 billion cost of complying with the EU’s trade restrictions.

Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, highlighted the importance of the EU market, which accounts for one-third of South Africa’s citrus exports.

He stressed that finding an effective resolution through the WTO is crucial, as previous efforts to engage with the EU in good faith have not yielded results.

The citrus industry supports the government’s actions and hopes for a swift resolution, especially as the citrus export season begins.

The potential for the industry to expand production and create more jobs hinges on access to the EU market.

The South African government and the citrus industry seek to safeguard an essential sector of the economy and are hopeful that constructive consultations with the EU will lead to a mutually beneficial outcome.

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