South Africa has instated a temporary voluntary suspension of most citrus fruit exports to the EU, pending completion of an urgent investigation into the reasons for ongoing detections of CBS. As from 8 September 2014 until further notice, exports will be allowed only from the official CBS-free areas in SA (Western Cape and Northern Cape, including the magisterial districts of Hartswater and Warrenton, as well as relevant districts of the Free State and North West). Also excluded from the suspension are soft citrus, a lower risk type that includes mandarins. This decision was taken in partnership with the South African citrus industry and illustrates commitment to compliance with the import requirements in question.
For the current export season, the phytosanitary authorities in the EU have sent South Africa 13 notifications confirming that CBS was present in consignments of South African citrus fruit exported to EU member states. All citrus fruit entering the EU from 24 July 2014 onwards needed to comply with strengthened import measures and new certification requirements of the EU regarding CBS, published in the EU on 3 July 2014. The new measures include additional pre-export sampling and inspection requirements. Also, all “Valencia” oranges are subject to a chemical symptom expression test.
Four of the 13 interceptions count toward the trigger-point of five that would require the EU to decide whether these non-compliances result from failures in South African monitoring and inspection procedures, as envisaged in the Commission Implementing Decision 2014/422/EC. The four interceptions took place after 24 July 2014 (the application date of the above EC Decision) and relate to phytosanitary certificates issued after its publication date, namely 3 July 2014. It should be clearly stated that in no official engagements with the EU has the EU threatened a permanent ban on imports of citrus fruit from South Africa because of CBS. More stringent phytosanitary import conditions, however, could be forthcoming if interceptions continue.
South Africa has gone to great lengths and expense to ensure compliance with EU requirements through a comprehensive CBS risk management system. For each interception, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has immediately notified the producer and withdrawn the production unit concerned from further exports to the EU in the current season. Other fruit types from that production unit already in the export pipeline, are also identified and dealt with accordingly. Each case is investigated in collaboration with the citrus industry.
Producers in South Africa are already planning for the 2015 crop. All are urged to be meticulous in identifying any risks that may compromise successful CBS control. Full compliance with the EU’s import requirements is critical because the EU remains a socio-economically important market for South African citrus. Strict implementation of the risk management system for CBS will continue in order to ensure that trade with the EU continues. DAFF is committed to maintaining open channels of communication with the relevant authorities in the EU on this matter and to ensure that import requirements are fully aligned with an agreed scientific assessment of the risk constituted by commercial citrus fruit.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS