The heads of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, and Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, remind the European Commission that there should be no concessions before the next review of the agreement between the European Union and the southern African states.
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Referring to the recent opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the risk assessment of the orange tree moth, Planas also sent a letter to the Health Commissioner to ask the EC to monitor the phytosanitary conditions to introduce citrus fruits into the territory of the EU.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, have asked the European Commission to consider citrus fruits as a "very sensitive" product to imports from third countries, urging that there be no further concessions.
Faced with the forthcoming review of the economic partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Southern African development community, including the Republic of South Africa, both ministers have addressed a joint letter to the Commissioners for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski; trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, and Health, Stella Kyriakides.
In their letter, Planas and Maroto recalled that Spanish production is subject to the demanding community production model and that due to the lack of reciprocity in trade agreements, "the next review of the agreement should not offer additional concessions for citrus imports." .
The Spanish production and export of citrus fruits are of crucial importance for the agri-food sector as a whole and have a direct impact on the rural economies of the production areas.
Since the agreement was signed, South Africa has notably increased its exports to the EU, has also increased its citrus production potential and extended its production period, a situation that puts at risk the complementarity in marketing that its location in the southern hemisphere gave it.
On the occasion of the recent opinion of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), Minister Planas also addressed a letter earlier this month to Commissioner Kyriakides asking the Commission to remain vigilant with phytosanitary conditions to introduce citrus fruits into the territory of the EU.
In the letter, the minister points out that, according to the scientific results of the EFSA report, the measures established by South Africa to prevent the entry of the orange tree moth ( Thaumatotibia leucotreta ) "are not sufficient and, furthermore, they are not applied correctly" .
He asks the EC to review the control system and replace it with a system based on cold treatment as a requirement for citrus imports from countries where the pest is found.
The citrus sector in Spain represents, with 2,500 million euros per year on average, 4.9% of the production of the agricultural branch in Spain and 32.5% of that of fruit. Spanish citrus growers harvest 60% of total EU production, which places Spain as the main citrus producer in the EU and fifth in the world. ■
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