(Bloomberg) -- South Africa, the world’s second-largest exporter of citrus fruit after Spain, has reached an agreement with the European Union to clear containers with oranges that were stuck at ports on the continent for failing to comply with new import rules.
The new measures require exporters to apply cold treatment to oranges heading to Europe and provide phytosanitary declarations for grapefruit and soft citrus such as mandarins as part of efforts to curb the spread of the false codling moth, a pest native to sub-Saharan Africa that feeds on fruit.
The sudden imposition of the standards that came into effect last month as ships with oranges from South Africa were traveling to Europe meant that more than 2,000 containers, worth an estimated 500 million rand ($30 million) were affected by the blockage at European ports, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said in a statement Thursday.
South Africa has since reached an agreement with the EU to allow the containers into its markets that will be processed at its cold treatment facilities and provide those that have had treatment with new certificates that are compliant with its rules, the statement said.
“The steps by the EU have cost South African citrus exporters about 200 million rand extra in terms of storage and transport costs and opportunity costs,” Deon Joubert, EU envoy for the South African Citrus Growers Association, said in an interview. “We expect that to rise by another 180 million rand.”
More than 300 of the containers have since been cleared, the department said.
Europe is South Africa’s largest market for citrus. The industry generated export revenue of 30 billion rand and sustained more than 100,000 jobs last year, CGA data show.
South Africa last month filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the regulations.
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