The European Commission has denied that the import of oranges and mandarins from South Africa is the reason for the fall in prices suffered by EU producers.
The head of the Directorate General of Agriculture said that “there is no statistical data to say that there has been an increase in imports from South Africa in the period that is harmful to the European production.”
He said that the irregular import of citrus fruits from third countries with which the EU has signed trade agreements, like Egypt or Morocco, is not a key factor. “The Commission has no evidence proving that the crisis is due to imports from third countries, like the ones arriving as a result of the trade agreement with South Africa,” he said. “They maybe don’t like it, but the import figures do not show a significant increase in the volume of oranges arriving during the critical period for the European Union,” he insisted.
The producers however believe that they have suffered heavy losses, attributable partly to the overlap of the late varieties imported from South Africa and the early ones produced in Spain, mainly in Valencia and Andalusia.
Producers are therefore asking Brussels to apply the safeguard clause of the trade agreement South Africa. But the Commission does not believe that imports are disrupting the sustainability of the fruit sector in Spain.