The European Union (EU) market is important for South African citrus exporters; however, the increase in non-tariff measures (NTMs), such as SPS requirements by the EU, to some extent may have an impact on South African citrus export to the EU. For an instance, the EU adopted stricter regulations in 2013 on the number of Citrus Black Spot (CBS) interceptions, setting them at a maximum number of five, as opposed to thirty-six that were found in South African citrus exports in 2012. The adoption of such NTMs constitutes a greater challenge for South African exporters, who are required incur greater cost in complying with higher standards. South Africa has normally associated some of the NTMs imposed by the EU on citrus from South Africa, such as CBS regulations, with the internal interests of some citrus-producing European countries. The United Kingdom (UK), after Brexit and being outside the EU, may no longer be constrained by such EU interests. Accordingly, the main objective of this study is to evaluate the potential impact of NTMs imposed by the EU on South African citrus exports to the UK.
To evaluate the impact of EU NTMs on South Africa citrus, a database of NTMs was developed. Citrus products classified at HS 6-digit level exported by South Africa to the EU were included in the database. The descriptive analysis has shown evidence that, overall, the number of NTMs applied on citrus exports from South African by the EU escalated from 25 in 1988 to 1 829 in 2018. This increase in the number of NTMs coincided with a decline in the tariffs.
Inventory analysis results revealed that, because the UK is a member of the EU, and even though the UK does not have citrus production, South African citrus exports to the UK faced 3.9%–16% more SPS measures than they would have if the UK was not part of the EU. Furthermore, South Africa would have faced 10%–20% more TBT measures than they would have if UK was not part of the EU. It was also found that South Africa would have faced 33%–390% more of other types of NTMs than they would have if the UK was not part of the EU.
The econometric analysis revealed that South African oranges and mandarins exports are mostly affected by SPS measures, rather than any other NTM category, and their impact is higher in the rest of the EU than in the UK. The difference of -0.001 and -0.009, which is obtained by subtracting the value of the NTM (SPS) coefficient for exports to the rest of the EU and that of the UK for oranges and mandarins, respectively, represents the margin by which South African exports to the UK unnecessarily suffer for SPS measures. The results also revealed that TBT measures only affected South African oranges and mandarins exports to the rest of the EU and not to the UK. The other NTMs had no significant impact on both exports to the rest of the EU and the UK. Furthermore, tariffs had no significant impact on all citrus categories exported to the rest of the EU and the UK, across all NTM categories.
One of the important findings of the study is that the impact of SPS measures is the highest in the rest of the EU as compared with UK and that TBT measures had no negative effect on citrus exports to the UK. This implies that because there are no commercial citrus orchards in the UK, citrus exporters that were likely excluded to UK when it was still under EU will likely benefit if regulations related to pests, plant health (including CBS), plant protection and territory protection are eliminated or reduced. Therefore, this study recommend that South African trade policy makers should prioritise negotiations for the reduction or removal of some of these measures that do not apply to the UK due to the absence of commercial orchards in the UK. Furthermore, the study recommends that South African citrus producers should focus on exporting more amounts of citrus to the UK, and export less to the rest of the EU since exports to UK are not affected by TBT measures.