SOUTH AFRICA – The European Commission has decided not to extend cold treatment requirements to include all citrus fruits from South Africa or other countries at risk of pests.

This decision follows South Africa’s formal request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to mediate its trade dispute with the European Union (EU) over citrus fruit exports.

South Africa raised concerns over the phytosanitary trade rules imposed by the EU on its citrus products.

Carlos Mazón, president of the Generalitat Valenciana, stated on April 16 that EU Commissioner of Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski was considering expanding the cold treatment protocol to include all South African citrus fruits.

However, the European Commission decided to keep the current rule unchanged, applying the treatment only to oranges from South Africa.

The Commission’s decision follows the results of inspections that showed no breaches related to the false moth pest in orange shipments from South Africa.

The low number of observed non-compliances prompted the Commission to refrain from extending the treatment to other citrus fruits such as mandarins and grapefruits.

A European Commission spokesperson in Spain emphasized that any future restrictions will be based on technical and scientific evidence, with decisions made after bilateral consultations with partner countries.

This approach contrasts with the expectations raised by Mazón, who suggested that the Commission was prepared to apply cold treatment to all citrus fruits, regardless of their origin.

Valencian agricultural organizations expressed concern over the Commission’s decision. They view the extension of cold treatment as essential to preventing the entry of the false moth pest, which has been intercepted in fruits from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, and Morocco.

Despite the decision, the European Commission will continue to monitor the situation closely, particularly regarding the black spot fungus.

The EU is committed to upholding stringent food safety standards, known to be among the world’s highest, and may strengthen import requirements if necessary.

South Africa has been implementing cold treatment measures since 2022, affecting its exports during this campaign. However, South African producers remain determined to expand their presence in the European market.

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