CARGOES of oranges and lemons shipped from Spain to China have been destroyed by the recipient country after it was found they had been sent there fraudulently.
The 20 tonnes of fruit arriving in the Asian country rang warning bells, and Chinese quality control bosses contacted Spanish diplomatic authorities to alert them that the cargo appeared 'suspicious'.
Ambassador for Spain in China, Samuel Juárez, said the Spanish fruit industry is attempting to clamp down hard on unauthorised trade and that a full investigation was under way.
“There should be no reprisals for Spain, because we've seen how well the controls on our exports work,” Juárez assured.
“This should not have any negative impact on bilateral trading deals with China, since as soon as we were informed, we took all the correct and legal actions required.”
Forged documents claiming the oranges and lemons had been grown in the province of Alicante were included with the containers, but Juárez says that as the papers were clearly fake, the cargoes may not even have come from Spain at all.
The fruit was said to be in 2,000 crates of 10 kilos each, and worth about €14,000, but have been destroyed and buried in quicklime as a precaution after arriving at the port of Tianjin.
Spain has been legally allowed to export lemons and oranges to China since 2007, when procedures covering pest control came into force, but did not in fact do so until two years ago when €1m in citrus fruit was shipped to the Asian nation.
This figure went up to €3m in 2015, and is expected to be even more lucrative by the end of 2016.
Spain and China are working on a new export deal through which the former would export peaches, plums and grapes to the latter, although logistics and costs will involve serious discussion since, given the distance between the two countries, refrigeration and shipping are more expensive.