The Chinese are enjoying Mzansi’s pears after the signing of an historic agreement. But how will we fare against countries who have long-standing bilateral agreements with China? Lucius Phaleng, an agricultural economist with the National Agricultural Marketing Council, weighs in on the matter.
The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development announced that fresh pear fruits from South Africa can now be exported to China. This, after the two countries signed a protocol agreement of phytosanitary requirements for the export of fresh pears from South Africa to China, effective from 17 January 2022.
The signed protocol assists exporters with guidance on procedures and processes to be followed for the exportation of the fresh pear fruit. It provides local pear producers with the great opportunity to expand their market access and footprint in international markets.
According to the latest available information, 52% of South African pears are destined for global markets with the remaining volumes consumed in the local and processing markets. This shows the importance of the international markets for the local pear fruit industry as exports are the principal outlet.
Currently, large volumes of fresh pears are destined to European countries at a share of 27% as part of existing trade agreements. This is followed by Russia, the Middle East and Far East/Asia. South Africa anticipates large pear export growth in the next two to three years driven by the signed protocol with China.
Importance of formalised relationships
China is one of the important identified strategic markets for the South African fruit industry (including fresh pears) as it possesses a potential to import large volumes. However, the biggest challenge to access new markets is the non-existence of a formalised relationship with the identified strategic markets as compared to its competitors.
For instance, South Africa’s fruit compete with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Chile, which already have an established bilateral agreement with China. This situation put South Africa fruit exports on the disadvantage side in the Chinese shelves.
With the newly established export opportunity for South African pear producers, it is encouraging that all fresh pear fruit to be exported to China will have to meet all agreed-upon phytosanitary requirements, as well as all food safety rules, and health standards as defined by General Administration of Customs China (GACC).
The fruit must also be free of the quarantine pests of concern to China as presented in the protocol. Pear orchards, packhouses and cold storage facilities wishing to export their fruit to China must be registered with the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development and approved by both the GACC and the department.
The opening of more markets for South African commodities does not only benefit the agricultural sector but the economy at large by earning exchange and creation of more job opportunities.
- Lucius Phaleng is an agricultural economist with the National Agricultural Marketing Council.