UN expert panel to address EU-South Africa CBS dispute
In an effort to put an end to the long-running dispute between South African citrus industry and the EU, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) will put together a panel of experts to scrutinize the issue.
The dispute relates to various instances of the fungal disease citrus black spot (CBS) being detected on South African shipments to the EU, which led to Europe imposing strict measures on the country's growers.
Earlier this month South Africa announced it had suspended the export of some citrus varieties to the EU in order to avoid any more interceptions of fruit with CBS, but the industry maintains the EU's measures are inconsistent with the level of risk of the disease spreading.
The IPPC, which is part of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has requested the nomination of disinterested experts who have a scientific background on CBS to become committee members.
Even though the IPPC does not have binding powers, it is hoped the panel could bring some degree of finality to the dispute which has been ongoing since 2010.
The IPPC was formed to guard against the transmission of plant diseases and enhance trade by ensuring there were no unjustified barriers between trade partners.
According to Iol.co.za, Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa chairman Justin Chadwick said that since 2010, the industry had put in numerous mechanisms to bring about an end to the dispute.
"The last attempt resulted in the EU introducing stricter controls, including pre- and post-harvest chemical treatment and other measures. These measures have not worked; instead they have widened the gap between the two countries," Chadwick was quoted as saying.
He allegedly praised the latest development, saying it was good news for local growers because there was a strong belief the scientific work done by another international expert panel was sound and that the EU's measures were disproportionate to the risk involved.
"We believe that an independent expert panel will look at it and will conclude the facts. Our wish was to get some independent review of both the views so that we can settle the dispute," Chadwick reportedly said.
The story published by Iol.co.za also said the IPPC expert panel would consist of three independent professionals and one representative from each of the parties involved.