PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- South Africa's Ambassador to the U.S., the Honorable Ebrahim Rasool and the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum (WCCPF) today hosted members of Congress and their representatives, and other partners in the import business. The purpose of the event was to highlight the importance of South African Summer Citrus and how expanded trade between Africa and the U.S. benefits the regional and broader U.S. economy. (www.summercitrus.com and www.facebook.com/summercitrus)
"This is an exciting moment for us," said Gerrit van der Merwe, chairman of the WCCPF and co-host of the event. "Since we began shipping citrus to the U.S. in 1999, we have built a program from some 50 tons shipped then to more than 40,000 tons to be shipped this year. This program has helped build a category of summer citrus in the U.S. where previously citrus in the summer months was less available." The Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum is a consortium of 350 growers approved to export their citrus to the U.S.
Ambassador Rasool, former premier (governor) of South Africa's Western Cape Province pointed out that the trade preferences the U.S. extends to African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (A.G.O.A.) are underpinning the emergence of a new middle class of consumers in Africa, 300 million strong, spurring demand for American goods and services.
"There is growing empirical evidence that AGOA is a win-win proposition. As access to the US market stimulates growth in Africa, this is in turn generates demand for imports from the US and elsewhere, creating jobs and opportunities for US exporters in a virtuous cycle," the ambassador said.
"We are pleased the Ambassador chose to recognize our program," said van der Merwe. "It represents many thousands of hardworking families and workers all along the supply chain from South Africa and across the ocean to here in New Jersey and beyond." The WCCPF was joined by the Citrus Growers of Southern Africa in hosting the event.
Those attending at the Holt Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J. had the opportunity to observe the discharging of the Sea Phoenix, a vessel carrying navels and clementines. Through the season, which runs from June through October, a refrigerated vessel similar to the Sea Phoenix arrives at this port every 10 days. Fruit is transported from here to retail distribution sites and supermarkets across the U.S. The frequency of the ships' arrival assures importers, retailers and consumers receive only the freshest fruit on a regular and reliable basis.
"We are honored to attend this important event that emphasizes the strong connections between North America and South Africa. This business has a very positive effect on jobs here in our region, jobs in South Africa, and the availability of fresh citrus for consumers across North America," said Bryan Silbermann, Produce Marketing Association president and CEO.
South Africa is the world's second largest exporter of citrus, producing 60 percent of all citrus grown in the Southern Hemisphere. The fruit exported to the U.S. comes mainly from the region between the towns of Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, about two hours northwest of Cape Town, and the Northern Cape, near Kimberley.
SOURCE Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum