Global Economy

COVID-19: EU relaxes fruit & veggies imports; no orders from US

NEW DELHI: The European Union has eased rules for import of fresh fruit and vegetables from India. It has done away with the requirement for a physical certificate assuring food safety, and animal and plant health standards.

Now, an online certification will be enough. The EU has strict phytosanitary requirements to prevent the entry and spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products.

This means specified plants or plant products, including fruit and vegetables and wood products, must be accompanied by a plant health certificate issued by the relevant authorities of the exporting country.

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“The EU has begun accepting online certificates for the products they are already importing from us. Earlier they wanted a physical copy,” said an official aware of the development, adding that the move will especially benefit grape exports.

The relaxation comes in the wake of global trade disruptions due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a reciprocal measure for India continuing to import from the EU.

India exported grapes worth $334.79 million in 2018-19, with The Netherlands, Russia, UK, Bangladesh and Germany being the major destinations.

Grapes, pomegranates, mangoes, bananas and oranges account for a large portion of fruits exported from the country, while onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and green chilly are major contributors to the vegetable export basket.

Officials, however, said exports to the United States and Japan will suffer as they send inspectors before finalising their orders. “Their inspectors are not coming due to the travel bans. So, there are no export orders,” the official added.

Industry expects mango exports to be impacted the most as the UAE is also not placing orders. The US, UAE, UK, Oman and Qatar are the largest importers of Indian mangoes. India exported mangoes worth $60.26 million in financial year 2019.

India’s export of fruit and vegetables declined 7.22% on-year in the April-February period to $2.06 billion.


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