EU envoy defends Alphonso ban, dubs it as more political issue

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The European Union today defended the ban it has imposed on Alphonso mangoes but said it was open to reviewing the decision if all issues related to quality control are addressed even as it dubbed the controversy over its move "a fallout of electoral politics".

"The situation is very simple. A bunch of files regarding problems relating to quality control of the fruit were found during the inspection by a team that had come in 2010 to check the export process. So warnings were issued.

"In, 2013 a regular follow-up inspection was carried out and they were told to put in some mechanism in next 6-8 months but that did not happen till this February," European Union envoy Joao Cravinho said here.

Cravinho was addressing an event on 'business opportunities in the EU', organised by the industry lobby group All-India Association of Industries.

He, however, was quick to add that "the EU does not want to ban Indian mangoes. This is a temporary ban and I expect there will be a revision of the situation in 2015. But there can be a review of the situation before that as well if the changes are put in place."

Cravinho said the controversy following the ban was outcome of general elections in India and the EU Parliamentary polls.

"The controversy surrounding the ban has more to do with politics than the trade. 90 per cent of the controversy is related to the fact that you are in the election mode here. The European Parliament elections have also played some role," Cravinho said.

He said the ban was not a big issue in Europe, which imports most of the mangoes from Africa and the US.

The 28-member EU had slapped a temporary ban on imports of Alphonso variety and four vegetables from the country on May 1, sparking protests from the government and traders.

He also ruled out any impact of mango ban on now-stalled FTA talks with the European Union.

"We are talking about something like 8-9 million euros in the context in which Indian exports to the EU is nearly 40 billion euros," he said.

However, EU member Britain imports nearly 16 million mangoes from the country and the market for the fruits is worth nearly 6 million pounds a year.

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