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The EU reopens the market to import citrus from Argentina

The Argentine Ministry of Agriculture has carried out an audit that has been approved by the European Commission to prevent the export of citrus fruits with Citrus Black Spot.


Argentine lemons.

As of May 1, the measure applied by the European Union in August 2020 that prohibited imports of lemons and oranges from Argentina due to the high number of detections of the plague Phyllosticta citricarpa (Citrus black spot) in citrus fruit exported by southern country last year to that market.

The EU published this Tuesday, April 27, in its Official Gazette, the norm that establishes the requirements to reopen said market for citrus from Argentina, as of May 1. "This achievement is the result of joint work between Senasa, as the competent authority to control and certify our exports, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Argentine Foreign Ministry, the provincial governments of NOA and NEA and the Argentine citrus sector", stand out from the Argentine Government.

"This decision of the European Union is a sign of the confidence that we are building in the international market and of the coordinated work that we have been doing together with local producers, governors of the NOA and NEA provinces, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry teams" said the head of the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture, Luis Basterra.

"In the context of a pandemic, we are being able to sustain production, guarantee the internal supply of food and open markets. Each country or region in which we manage to enter with our products is an opportunity for our producers, more work and development for each one of the regions of the country, "said the minister.

For his part, the president of the Argentine Senasa, Carlos Paz, "within the framework of the actions to recover this market, the Senasa reinforced the control measures in the field and packaging and increased the staff of its regional teams to strengthen and improve the supervision of citrus fruits for export to the EU, which will boost our regional economies. "

Following the ban imposed by the EU last year, Senasa carried out the corresponding investigations, which resulted in adjustments to controls and a restructuring and relaunch of the citrus export certification program, which will guarantee preventive treatments at the field level for stain. black and the effectiveness of the fruit health controls at different points in the chain.

The technical teams of the European Commission were able to verify the actions implemented by Senasa, through a "rigorous virtual audit" carried out in February. The report of said audit, as well as the corrective action plan presented by the Argentine health agency in response to its recommendations, were discussed by the audit team and the services of the Plant Protection Unit of the European Commission, with experts from the EU Member States on three occasions in the framework of a Permanent European Technical Committee for Plant Health.

Throughout this process, both the authorities and the technical areas of Argentina maintained permanent communication and information exchange with the European Commission on the measures and actions implemented to guarantee the phytosanitary safety of Argentine citrus fruit and their progress.

On April 14, the aforementioned Technical Committee of the EU voted favorably on the measures that will be required for the 2021 export campaign for Argentine citrus fruit in relation to the prevention of black spot, which are fully in line with the actions determined and implemented by Senasa.

Subsequently, the College of Commissioners of the EU adopted the rule that implements these measures, and allows access again to the European market. This standard (Commission Implementation Decision (EU) 2021/682 amending Implementation Decision (EU) 2016/715) was published in the Official Journal of the EU today, April 27, and will enter into force on May 1, from which time Senasa will be in a position to re-issue phytosanitary certificates for citrus exports to the EU.

The Argentine authorities indicate that "it is also important to note that throughout the process, permanent discussions were held between the official authorities (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and SENASA) with the provincial governments of the citrus production areas, with scientific bodies from research, and with the private sector to adjust control measures. "

The EU is the main export market for our citrus fruits, with Argentina historically being the main supplier of lemons and the fourth supplier of oranges to the European Union.

This reopening of the European market will benefit the Argentine regional economies of the NOA and NEA, maintaining exports that will allow foreign exchange to enter the country. "In this sense, the commitment and involvement of each actor in the food-chain, both at an official and private level, is essential to guarantee the health of our export products ", they conclude.

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