South Africa may instigate a dispute resolution process with the European Union over the region’s move to ban imports of the country’s citrus fruit, according to the country’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The EU’s intention to prohibit South African citrus, which sometimes carries a fungus called citrus black spot, “is more stringent than can be scientifically justified,” DAFF said in an e-mailed statement today. “We have gone some way in following the consensual dispute resolution processes. Because of the seriousness of this matter, the DAFF together with other key government departments are considering initiating other parallel dispute-resolution processes.”
Citrus black spot causes “superficial” blemishes on fruit, according to the department, and cannot be spread from picked fruit. South Africa’s citrus industry is valued at about 6.5 billion rand ($733 million), according to the government, and Europe is one of the country’s largest export markets. South Africa is the world’s biggest exporter of whole oranges and the largest shipper of grapefruit.
“Based on a growing international body of scientific evidence” DAFF continues to believe EU requirements are too rigid, the department said. “Within the international trade environment, there are several dispute resolution mechanisms available to address this matter.”
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