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Oranges destined for Europe left to spoil in port

by Luqmaan Rawat

South Africa – Millions of fresh oranges are sitting in shipping containers in European ports as South Africa and the European Union butt heads over new import rules. The new plant and health safety requirements introduced by the EU are more detrimental than helpful, says orange farmers.

The new measures came into place in July when the containers were already on ships travelling to their destinations. This resulted in the fruits being held back on arrival. The regulations state farmers must apply extreme cold treatment to the oranges and keep it at temperatures of two degrees Celsius for 25 days.

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The new regulation on oranges is to punish South Africa

These new regulations are aimed at tackling a potential spread of an insect called the false codling moth. Even though the EU knew these regulations, they did not stop the ordering of oranges from South Africa. Ashraf Patel, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Global Dialogue, believes the orders weren’t stopped because of a political motive.

“My assessment from a political economy point of view is that they are punishing South Africa and other countries because we’re not necessarily pulling their line politically in other domains. This could be one political economy argument and the other argument is that trade cycles in the current world economy are very complex with supply chain delays.”

There is also the issue of the developing countries raising many issues at the conference. One of the main concerns is the subsidiaries that the United States gives to their farmers. According to Patel, US farmers get a $40 000 subsidiary, and this is no problem. However, it becomes an issue when the developing nations want to do the same.

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What happens now

To lose this amount of produce is never ideal. Especially for farmers who need the money to continue to run their farms. The World Trade Organisation does have a dispute mechanism in place. The parties have 60 days to negotiate a solution. If the parties cannot agree, the matter can be decided by a panel of experts.

Patel has faith that the matter will be ruled in favour of South Africa. He believes the EU has made their point that they are ready to use trade to make their point and put a country in its so-called place.

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