The citrus fruit trade: unfair conditions

European citrus growers must meet specific protocols to export to the same countries, which in turn, send citrus fruit to Europe

According to the consultant Paco Borrás, “protocol creation was an invention of the American citrus fruit lobbies in the United States, developed by the Department of Agriculture to make it difficult to import, or prevent the entry of citrus fruit into the country. Today, these protocols are demanded by many countries that have discovered how easy it is to copy and paste.”

In view of this, we can find different situations. For example, countries with strict protocols, which act as a barrier: amongst which are the United States, China, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, Turkey and Egypt have a tariff barrier of 54% and 30% on the price. South Africa has minor protocols, which do not include cold treatment. A series of South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras and Uruguay do not require any protocols at all.

The strictest protocols of all, which mean that no exports are possible, are those belonging to Mexico and Japan.

These different trade relations involve a complete lack of reciprocity. But, how is it possible for so much to be demanded of us, knowing that European agricultural production is subject to very high plant protection controls, highly advanced residue and environmental controls and with a level of respect for human rights that is beyond any doubt?

The answer lies in the negotiations. In order to export to Europe, the negotiations are carried out in Brussels, but to export from Europe to the rest of the world, each exporting country must deal with the question as a national matter, where Brussels has no say.

This is the basic point behind the establishment of different yardsticks between European imports and exports.

How could this clearly unfair situation be resolved? According to Borrás, “the problem must be tackled from three different viewpoints: Brussels taking on export competences in Brussels with a B2B debate, at the same table and at the same time as imports are being negotiated; the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade of the member countries should transfer their competences to Brussels on the subject of exports; and, finally, European politicians should be made aware of the inferior position in which European producers are working.”


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