Argentina decries "clear injustice" of EU citrus suspension over CBS
Argentina has slammed the European Union's recent decision to suspend imports of lemons and oranges from the South American countries until May 2020.
The announcement was made two weeks ago following numerous interceptions of fruit infected with citrus black spot (CBS) at EU ports.
The move came after Argentina had already suspended lemon exports at the end of June for the same reason. But while lemon exports had already passed their peak at that moment, the orange industry still had around half of the crop left to harvest when the EU suspension was implemented.
Jose Carbonell of Argentine industry body Federcitrus said that exporters were particularly angry at the decision because of concerns over the true number of CBS detections in the EU.
He claims that of more than 80 interceptions, only eight are supported by a document with laboratory analysis.
"The rest of the determinations were made by sight or by using a microscope, which are going to be subject to errors," he said.
According to Carbonell, the EU's decision has caused severe damage on the Argentine citrus industry.
"There has been a clear injustice for oranges," he said. Argentina is preparing a defense against the measure, and the lack of laboratory supporting evidence will play an important part.
The damage was not as significant for lemons, as there was only around 20% left to be exported and that was able to be diverted to the processed market.
However, the future impact of the suspension of orange imports is harder to understand, he said.
"Exporters are working hard to find alternative markets for their oranges, with the support of the Argentine Foreign Ministry," he said.
"But the world of oranges is much more limited, there are many more countries that produce oranges than produce lemons, and in Argentina, a far lower percentage of oranges are sent for processing compared to lemons."
He also said that it was unfair for the EU to ban Argentine citrus imports over concerns about CBS, which he said is not spread by the fruit. Feercitrus said in a statement two weeks ago that it believed the Spanish industry was behind the pish for the suspension.
"Argentina - as well as Chile, Peru, South Africa - all export counter-seasonal fruit to the northern hemisphere. And in reality, we have complemented Spain for 50 years and there has never been a contagion of CBS, which proves that it is not spread by fruit," he said.
"We are soon going to register a complaint about the lack of technical supporting evidence in the interceptions and the aggressiveness of the Spanish entities and authorities."