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South Africa: $1bn citrus industry highlights importance of inclusion in AGOA

South Africa: $1bn citrus industry highlights importance of inclusion in AGOA
Published date:
Sunday, 20 August 2023
Cayla Murray

On Friday, the Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism met with key stakeholders in the citrus industry at Market Demand Fruits, Stellenbosch.

The meeting focussed on the detrimental impact on citrus exports to the United States should South Africa not be included in the reauthorisation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

These stakeholders included representatives from Summer Citrus South Africa, Seatrade, Good Hope Fruit, Cape Fruit Coolers, Cedar Citrus, Maersk and MSC; and was followed by an oversight visit to the fresh fruit export packing and cooling facility, Stellenpak. Please see the photos attached.

Summer Citrus is an umbrella body which represents the entire citrus value chain by working with packagers, the cold store industry, transport businesses, shipping lines and the numerous communities which have benefitted under its empowerment programmes. Its formation 25 years ago and success are inextricably tied to South Africa’s inclusion in AGOA.

MPP Cayla Murray said: “During the engagement, I learnt that Western Cape is the only province in the country that can export citrus to the U.S. due to phytosanitary concerns. It was further highlighted, that despite fierce global competition - the Western Cape’s citrus exports are the US’s preferred product due to the quality of our products.”

“Without AGOA, our citrus exports would be jeopardised as our competitors, who have free trade agreements with the US, would be able to sell their products at far more competitive prices. This would leave a massive gap in our provincial economy.”

The Western Cape exported approximately R1.6 billion worth of citrus to the US under the preferential market access offered by AGOA in 2022. This equates to 102 000 tonnes of high-quality citrus and has created 35 000 jobs across the logistics value chain.

Summer Citrus CEO, Suhanra Conradie, said: “There is a direct correlation between the growth and opportunities created by the Summer Citrus program into the US, and AGOA. The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US and all service providers throughout the supply-chain will be hugely impacted if AGOA would not be renewed. We are grateful for the Western Cape Government for supporting the industry on expressing our perspective to national government. We have gained a lot of momentum with our collaborative approach and intend to keep it going”.

Stakeholders further highlighted the need for urgent clarity on the renewal of AGOA and our inclusion over the next 10 – 15 years from the National Government.

“This engagement again underscored the importance and urgency of the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, providing feedback to the Provincial Standing Committee on the status of the AGOA renewal and the future of our trade relationship with the US. To this end, I will again be inviting him to the Standing Committee,” said MPP Cayla Murray.

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