The new EU rules for citrus imports from South Africa: Background, applicable legal texts and processes, and the dispute declared by South Africa under the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
Citrus fruits are one of the most important export products for the South African economy. The South African Citrus Growers Association (CGA) estimates that the country exported 158.7 million cartons of oranges in 2021, making it the biggest revenue earner in Africa from orange exports. The European Union (EU) is one of the main destination markets for South African citrus fruits, making up 40% of South African orange exports and 27% of its soft citrus exports.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) announced on 11 August 2022 that the South African government had managed to negotiate a settlement with the EU to clear containers of citrus blocked in EU Ports as a result of the EU’s recently-introduced phytosanitary measures on False Codling Moth (FCM). The EU measures were published on 21 June 2022, entered into force on 24 June 2022, and required that consignments arriving in Europe from 14 July 2022 onwards had to comply with the new requirements.
Taking the shortest sailing time to the EU, it meant that consignments that left South Africa on 24 June 2022, three days from the publication of the new measures, should have been certified in accordance with the new measures on leaving. The DALRRD assertion was that for South Africa to change the inspection and certification system within three days was unrealistic, considering what was needed in terms of adjusting systems and communication to the different regulatory sites. Its view was that a reasonable date for compliance with the new documentation requirements would have been for consignments leaving South Africa from 9 July 2022 onwards.
Updated: 16 August 2022
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