newsCOVID-19 Update: September 15, 2021To date (September 15), more than 5.79 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of about 34.9 million jabs given each day. World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom stated that although over 5.7 billion doses have been distributed globally, only 2% were given to Africa. The United Nations agency is urging every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population by the end of this year.   In the West, roughly nine months after vaccination rollouts began, there has been a slowdown in some national and state-wide immunization drives. Therefore, in some countries, large sections of the population are still unvaccinated and vaccination rates have decreased sharply.   WHO “No one is safe until everyone is safe” emphasizes the WHO. COVAX, the multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to COVID-19 vaccines, expects to have access to 1.4 billion doses of vaccine in 2021. COVAX milestone of two billion doses is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022.   WHO experts warn that the Delta variant remains the top concern globally, appearing to “outcompete” others because of the increased transmissibility. Currently Delta “tends to outcompete other variants”, Dr. Michael Ryan, Head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme explained. The WHO is also closely monitoring the Mu variant, firstly identified in Colombia in January 2021, since it is now among the five “variants of interest” the agency is tracking at the global level. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved US$567.25 million in emergency support to Tanzania to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency disbursement is expected to help finance the interventions needed to mitigate the severe socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and help catalyze support from development partners. Australia From September 10, some restrictions changed for Metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton to slow the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people leaving their homes and moving around Victoria. For regional Victoria (except Greater Shepparton) restrictions are easing, i.e. people can leave home but must not travel to metropolitan Melbourne or Greater Shepparton, other than for permitted reasons.   From September 11, parts of regional New South Wales (NSW) deemed low risk and with zero COVID cases for at least 14 days emerged from lockdown, but continue to operate under restrictions to ensure the safety of regional communities.   According to ABC NEWS, the NSW government is planning to reopen most sectors of the economy to vaccinated people, probably as early as mid-October. As reported by Reuters, Sydney’s bars, eateries and gyms across the city would be able to reopen at reduced capacity within days once NSW reached a 70% double-vaccination target, expected around mid-October.   The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is currently in lockdown and Canberrans are being asked to stay at home. The lockdown started on August 12, 2021, and will continue until September 17, 2021. China The South China Morning Post reported that China’s travel market is showing signs of recovery as Mid-Autumn Festival bookings surge. As restrictions on interprovincial movement begin to be lifted following containment of recent coronavirus outbreaks, the domestic travel market is expected to grow over the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.   COVID-19 cases doubled in China&#39;s southeastern province of Fujian, according to Reuters. In just four days, a total of 102 community infections have been reported in three Fujian cities. The infections come ahead of the week-long National Day holiday starting on October 1, a major tourist season. European Union The European Union is one of the regions at the forefront of the vaccination campaign with more than 70% of the EU’s adult population fully vaccinated. However, vaccination rates in Eastern and Central Europe are below the bloc’s average, for example, the figure fully vaccination population drops to roughly 20% in Bulgaria and around 32% in Romania.   It is not clear if a third dose of mRNA vaccine will improve immunity for healthy adults. At the beginning of September, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that there is no urgent need to administer booster shots to fully vaccinated individuals and additional doses should be considered for people with severely weakened immune systems. To shed light on this, EMA is assessing data on additional doses. The results are expected to be ready within the next few weeks, reported Deutsche Welle.   As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, together with the imbalance in the delivery of vaccines, the EU will make available additional humanitarian funding of €41 million to assist low and middle-income countries. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the EU has contributed close to €3 billion for the COVAX Facility and is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa.   On September 9, the European Council updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Uruguay was added to the list and Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei Darussalam, Japan and Serbia were removed from the list in Annex I. To recall, non-essential travel to the EU from countries or entities not listed in Annex I is subject to temporary travel restriction. Germany German Health Minister Jens Spahn is urging people to receive their COVID jabs to prevent health care services from being overwhelmed this fall and winter. Currently, just over 60% of people living in Germany have been fully vaccinated, and 66% partially. "If we do not drastically increase the current vaccination rates, the current fourth wave could take a highly severe course in fall", warned the head of Germany&#39;s RKI public health agency, Lothar Wieler. In addition, the German president of the World Medical Association has spoken out in favor of tough restrictions on the unvaccinated citizens: “To break the fourth wave before it becomes dramatic, we should now introduce a ‘2G’ rule nationwide wherever possible”. The so-called 2G rule specifies that only vaccinated and recently recovered people are able to access certain events, businesses and services. However, when the 2G rule cannot exclude unvaccinated, then the ‘3G’ rule should apply –unvaccinated people would then have to show an up-to-date PCR test. India India is expecting a third wave, but according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, the country is now better prepared to stop new COVID-19 waves. Dr. Swaminathan also said India could potentially be able to vaccinate most of its adult population by December if the current pace and supply of vaccines continue. Currently, 13.2% of India’s population is fully vaccinated. Italy On September 9, Italy approved a decree making mandatory the COVID-19 ‘green pass’ for those who enter school or university grounds, with the exception of underage students. All employees at nursing and retirement homes will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as is already the case for doctors and nurses. As reported by Euractiv last week, Health Minister Roberto Speranza affirmed that mandatory vaccination is an option on the table. Japan On September 9, Japan extended emergency COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and other regions until September 30 to curb infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The government plans to relax COVID-19 curbs on travel, large-scale events and the serving of alcohol around November, provided that most of the population is vaccinated by then. The eased restrictions are expected to focus on people who have been vaccinated and have tested negative PCR tests. Spain On September 6, Spain updated the list of EU and Schengen Area countries travel from where is considered a risk for the public health in Spain. France and Italy, as well as Romania’s regions of Nord-Vest and Vest, have been added. It means that travelers reaching Spain from these areas have to present a document that proves they have been vaccinated with a vaccine accepted by the Spanish authorities, proof of previous infection with COVID-19, or a negative COVID-19 test result.   Based on the recommendations made by a group of experts advising the government as well as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), around 100,000 people with weakened immune systems are about to be administered a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This third injection is not considered a booster, but rather an additional shot to complete the vaccination process, reports Spanish newspaper El País. Turkey Turkey has administered over 103 million doses since the beginning of the inoculation program against COVID-19 in mid-January. Currently, about 49.2% of the population is fully vaccinated. UK The use of Pfizer and AstraZeneca as COVID booster vaccines has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), the UK vaccine advisory body, will advise on whether booster jabs will be given and if so, which vaccines should be used.   On September 14, the UK Department of Health and Social Care announced that millions of vulnerable people are to be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine from next week after accepting the final recommendation from the JCVI. USA COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have generally increased throughout most of the US since the beginning of summer, fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. In many communities, low vaccination coverage is driving these increases.   A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that adults who had COVID-19 may experience ongoing health problems that can last four or more weeks after COVID-19 infection. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headache, fast-beating or pounding heart, cough, joint or muscle pain, dizziness/lightheadedness, or mood changes, among others.   Joe Biden’s plan, announced on September 9, states that all employers with more than 100 workers must require them COVID vaccine or show a negative test at least once a week. A separate provision requires vaccines for workers in Head Start programs and at schools operated by the federal government. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-september-15-2021INC Announces New Webinar SeriesThe INC has officially announced a new Webinar Series, beginning with a webinar led by the INC Executive Committee, as they give an exclusive look into the future of the nut and dried fruit industry. The other two webinars in the series will look at consumption trends, and shipping challenges Registration for the first webinar, An Exclusive Look to the Future of Nuts & Dried Fruits by the INC Executive Committee is now open for all INC Members. The webinar will take place on September 27 at 3 pm CEST. Chaired by INC Chairman Mr. Michael Waring, the webinar will also include 1st Vice Chairman Ashok Krishen, 2nd Vice Chairman Pino Calcagni, and Board Members, Bill Carriere, Giles Hacking, Jack Mariani, Mark Mariani, Pratap Nair, and Antonio Pont. Together, they will provide a deeper look into some of the most pressing topics facing the industry, such as COVID-19, demand, climate change, sustainability, supply, and shipping challenges. With the situation constantly changing, staying up-to-date on all of the most trending topics is imperative. So don’t miss this exclusive chance to hear from the INC Executive Committee on what the coming months and years might look like for the nut and dried fruit industry. Save your spot and register now! The second webinar in the series, scheduled for October 28, Consumption Trends in the Nut and Dried Fruit Industry will highlight the current state of the consumer market and provide potential marketing opportunities to increase consumption. The last session of the series, Shipping Challenges in a COVID-19 World, an Update, taking place on November 30, will bring together experts in the shipping industry from around the world to discuss the impact that COVID continues to have on shipping. INC Webinar Sponsorship Opportunities For these webinars, sponsorships are still available and you save your spot to become a sponsor for all three, right now! With a global membership in the nut and dried fruit industry, sponsoring INC events will give your brand valuable exposure to potential new customers! If you are interested in sponsoring this webinar, please contact marta.balleste@nutfruit.org. There are three levels of sponsorship opportunities that will give your company great visibility to the entire nut and dried fruit industry. Find out what these opportunities are and how you can expand your presence:   Main sponsor – €5000 Exclusive Promotional Video Opportunity. Promote your brand in front of this niche audience at the beginning of the webinar with an introduction to your company from the CEO (up to 2 minutes). OR, got a new product or service to promote? Place a 30-second company advert to be broadcasted at the beginning and the end of the webinar. NEW! VIP Participation during the webinar’s live Q&A! Get your face known within the industry and ask your question to our panel of experts live on camera. NEW! 15 minutes of insightful networking. After the webinar take advantage of networking with the speakers on topics specifically relevant to you. 10 Complimentary webinar registrations for Sponsor’s Own Clients or Prospects that are not INC Members. Company website to be shown automatically to participants when the webinar ends. Company logo included in the recorded version of the on-demand webinar. Company logo highlighted in all webinar pre-event emails, website, and registration page. Company logo on the Sponsors Banner shown before and at the end of the webinar. Banner Advertisement in the INC Industry newsletter and on the INC website during the webinar month. Only one main sponsor. As the only main sponsor, your company will benefit from the highest visibility throughout the whole event.   Gold sponsor – €2000: NEW! 15 minutes of insightful networking. After the webinar take advantage of networking with the speakers on topics specifically relevant to you. Company logo in all webinar pre-event emails and website. 10 Complimentary Webinar Registrations for Sponsor’s Own Clients or Prospects that are not INC Members. Company logo on the Sponsors Banner shown before and at the end of the webinar. Large Banner Advertisement (600x75 pix) in the INC Industry newsletter Banner Advertisement on the INC website during the webinar month   Silver sponsor – €1000: Company logo in all webinar pre-event emails and website. 5 Complimentary Webinar Registrations for Sponsor’s Own Clients or Prospects that are not INC Members. Company logo on the Sponsors Banner shown before and at the end of the webinar. Top Banner Advertisement (165x75 pix) at the top of the INC Industry newsletter   If you have any questions regarding these sponsorship opportunities, don’t hesitate to reach out.   Thank you for continuously supporting our wonderful industry! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-announce-new-webinar-with-its-executive-committeeShipping Logjams and Massive Demand for Global TradeExecutives from some of the largest US ports expect there to be shipping problems and logjams that extend well in the coming year, 2022, according to an article from The Wall Street Journal. The US ports are already suffering from congestion as on September 13, a record number, 56 vessels were stuck waiting to enter the Port of Los Angeles, but executives don’t expect the issue to be resolved soon, especially with the impending holiday season which usually is the peak of shipping in the US. These intensive logjams have caused hundreds of thousands of containers to be stranded outside of the ports, and this exacerbates the already massive need to replenish inventories. Throughout the pandemic, inventories have been stretched to a minimum and now, demand for global trade is far outpacing the ability to refill stock. In an interview with CNN, Maersk CEO Søren Skou explains that essentially there are two main drivers of this increasing demand for global trade, one being the strong demand as a result of stimulus money that has been poured into consumers, especially in the US, and two, the inventory rebuilding cycle that is taking place. Skou goes on to say that, “in the second quarter of 2020, a lot of companies stopped buying in Asia, or really scaled down their purchases, because nobody knew where the world was going. We thought that we would have a major global crisis, but then stimulus came and demand came roaring back.” This has without a doubt played a role in the imbalance between supply and demand around the world. With there being massive gaps between supply and demand, another point of concern with the shipping industry is the rising inflation. An article from CNN reports that according to Drewry, a maritime research consultancy company, a year ago, companies could expect to pay roughly $1,920 to rent a 40-foot steel container for a route between China and Europe, however, now this price has shot up to over $14,000, a staggering 600% increase. Maersk CEO, Søren Skou points out that hopefully as we “work through this period of extraordinary demand”, we can start to see a normalization in inflation. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/shipping-logjams-and-massive-demand-for-global-trade2020 EU Global Agri-food Trade ReportIn a recent report published by the European Commission, agri-food trade was analyzed for 2020, a year that brought many challenges, especially in the form of COVID-19. Despite the challenges, the report highlights the success that European agri-food trade experienced in 2020, where the total value of agri-food trade reached €306 billion. Of that total, €184 billion were exports and €122 billion were imports. Despite a general downward trend for international trade in Europe in 2020, mostly caused by the pandemic, the EU international trade in agri-food reported slight growth compared to 2019. The value of EU agri-food exports saw a 1.4% increase and the value for imports rose 0.5%. Regarding the nut and dried fruit industry, the category of Tropical fruit, fresh or dried, nuts and spices, continued to have the largest share of EU agri-food imports as it was in 2019, representing 11% of all agri-food imports into the EU. The category Fruit, fresh or dried, excluding citrus & tropical fruits, represented 5% of all agri-food imports, making it tied for the second-largest group of imports. When discussing trade with some of the EU’s most prominent trade partners, the report shows that Tropical fruit fresh or dried, nuts and spices dominate the EU’s agri-food imports from the US with a 26% share. The value of tropical fruits and nuts imports also increased by €56 million, in part to increased volumes. Tropical fruits, fresh or dried, nuts, and spices also remain tied for the largest product category of EU imports from China, at a 9% share. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/2020-eu-global-agri-food-trade-reportINC Annual Report 2020/2021Over the past year, the INC has continuously strived to bring its mission, To stimulate and facilitate sustainable growth in the global Nut and Dried Fruit Industry, to reality. Through many virtual events, an educative program, industry and consumer publications, research into sustainability and health, a global marketing campaign, and more, the INC has worked tirelessly to promote the global consumption of our wonderful products. Though 2020 was an exhausting year for everyone, the resilience of the industry has never shone brighter. To see the 2020/2021 Annual Report in its entirety, please download: INC Annual Report  https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-annual-reportBrief COVID-19 Update: September 8, 2021As of September 7, there have been 221.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4.6 million deaths, reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). The global incidence of cases and the number of deaths have remained stable over the month with over 4.4 million new cases reported last week. Regarding new weekly cases, all regions reported either a decline or a similar trend, except for the Americas, which reported a 19% increase. The incidence of new deaths increased in America and Europe by 17% and 20%, respectively.   Cases in the US continue to increase since July and the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases (153,246) increased 4.9% compared with the previous 7-day moving average.   To date, more than 5.56 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of about 37.3 million jabs given each day. In Singapore, Portugal, Spain, Chile, Belgium and the UAE, more than 70% of the population is fully vaccinated. But countries such as South Africa, Australia, Brazil or Argentina are still far from having half of the population fully vaccinated.   As an equitable distribution of vaccines is critical to ending the pandemic, on September 5, G20 health ministers agreed to increase the distribution of vaccines to poorer countries. In addition, Germany has promised to donate 100 million vaccine doses to global inoculation campaigns before the end of the year. The UK and Australia will share COVID-19 vaccine doses to benefit each other’s life-saving vaccine roll-out programs. The UK will send 4 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to Australia to rapidly enhance their vaccination program, with the first batch of 292,000 doses due to be shipped shortly. Australia will return the same overall volume of doses before the end of the year.   With back to school around the corner in many countries, according to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can spread rapidly in schools when unvaccinated teachers and staff have close, indoor contact with unvaccinated children. A second CDC study indicates that, following the rise of the Delta variant in the US, rates of hospitalization in children and adolescents have increased.   A study from the UK found that a high-quality diet pattern that includes plant-based foods, like nuts and dried fruits, is linked with lower risk and severity of COVID-19. While this study is the largest so far in this area, other studies have also highlighted the importance of nutrition and diet quality against COVID-19. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-september-8-2021Labeling Update: September 8, 2021Netherlands: Nutri-Score Logo The Minister for Medical Care of the Netherlands is designating Nutri-Score as a food choice logo and its conditions of use (Regulation on the designation of food choice logo).   The Netherlands intends to adopt the logo “Nutri-Score” developed by Santé Publice France and registered with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Nutri-Score is a voluntary food choice logo for food, which is intended to help consumers make healthier choices when purchasing within a product group. When using Nutri-Score, food businesses should place the logo on the front of the food.   See European Commission notification here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-update-september-8-2021Food Safety Update: September 8, 2021Chile: Pecans from Argentina The Agriculture and Livestock Service of Chile notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the Project establishing the mandatory phytosanitary requirements governing the imports of Chile of in-shell and shelled pecans (Carya illinoinensis) coming from Argentina.   Among others, the import phytosanitary requirements establish that the official phytosanitary certificate should include information about the treatment against Amyelois transitella (Lep.: Pyralidae). The product must be free of leaves, soil and plant remains. Shipments must be sent in suitable packaging and labeled in accordance with current regulations.   The deadline for comments is October 10, 2021.   Please see the WTO notification here. EU: 2020 RASFF Annual Report The European Commission has recently published the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) 2020 Annual Report.   There was a sharp decline in border rejection notifications (-30%) probably reflecting the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on global trade more than on the controls carried out themselves.   The most notified hazard in the nuts category and countries of origin were: Ethylene oxide in nuts, nut products and seeds from India: 296 notifications*. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from USA: 49 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from Turkey: 39 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from Iran: 29 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from Argentina: 29 notifications. * Ethylene oxide was mainly found in sesame seeds from India.   2020 EU RASFF Report India: Walnut Kernels Standard The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) published the Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Third Amendment Regulations (2021).   The Third Amendment Regulations (2021) relates to the final standards for walnut kernels, among other products. The walnuts kernels “shall be of uniform in colour (With permissible variation 15%) with characteristic taste and flavour. It shall be free from added colour. It may be either in the form of halves or pieces”. The following requirements are established:   Parameter Limit Moisture content, percent by mass (Maximum) 5.0 Acid-insoluble ash, percent by mass (Maximum) 0.1 Extraneous Vegetable matter, percent by mass (Maximum) 1.0 Foreign Matter, percent by mass (Maximum) 0.1 Damaged units, percent by mass (Maximum) 4.0 Acidity of extracted fat expressed as Oleic Acid percent by mass (Maximum) 1.25   The implementation date for this regulation is February 1, 2022.   Gazette notification no. File No.1-116/Scientific .Committee/Notif.28.4/2010-FSSAI dated 26.07.2021 w.r.t. Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Third Amendment Regulations, 2021. Tanzania: Aflatoxins in Peanuts The Tanzania Bureau of Standards notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the AFDC 19(290) CD 3 Code of practice for the prevention and reduction of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts.   This Code of practice represents a standard of good practice for the prevention and reduction of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts intended for human and animal consumption along the value chain. It recommends practices based on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and are generally consistent with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.   The final date for comments is October 24, 2021. It is proposed to be adopted in November 2021.   Please see the WTO notification here. Tanzania: Peanut Flour Standard The Tanzania Bureau of Standards notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the AFDC 19(843) CD3 Groundnut Flour – Specification.   The Standard specifies the requirements, sampling and test methods for groundnut flour from the varieties of Arachis hypogaea L. intended for human consumption.   The final date for comments is October 24, 2021. It is proposed to be adopted in November 2021.   Please see the WTO notification here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-september-8-2021Pesticides Update: September 8, 2021Australia: MRLS Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued the Amendment No. 202 (August 26, 2021) that modifies the Schedule 18 –Processing aids– and the Schedule 20 –Maximum residue limits– in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.   The Amendment can be found here.  China: MRLs Update On August 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service issued a GAIN Report containing an unofficial translation of China’s maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides in foods.   The standard entitled “National Food Safety Standard - Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides in Foods” (GB 2763- 2021) consolidates the previous version of the standard (GB2763-2019) and the updates that have been made since it was last issued in 2019. The updated standard contains an additional 81 pesticides and 2,985 new MRLs.   The implementation date of the Standard was September 3, 2021. EFSA: Fosetyl MRLs Review The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Reasoned Opinion on the joint review of maximum residue levels (MRLs) for fosetyl, disodium phosphonate and potassium phosphonates according to Articles 12 and 43 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.   EFSA has reviewed the MRLs currently established at European level for the pesticide active substances potassium and disodium phosphonates. As fosetyl, potassium phosphonates and disodium phosphonates degrade to phosphonic acid, EFSA considered appropriate to jointly review the residues of these three active substances. Based on the assessment of the available data, MRL proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out. The consumer risk assessment is considered indicative only, and some MRL proposals derived by EFSA still require further consideration by risk managers. The following MRL recommendations were derived: Code Commodity Existing EU MRL (ppm) Existing Codex MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments 120010 Almonds 500 400 1,000 Recommended 120020 Brazil nuts 500 400 400 Recommended 120030 Cashew nuts 500 400 400 Recommended 120060 Hazelnuts 500 400 1,000 Recommended 120070 Macadamia 500 400 400 Recommended 120080 Pecans 500 400 400 Recommended 120090 Pine nuts 500 400 400 Recommended 120100 Pistachios 500 400 1,000 Recommended 120110 Walnuts 500 400 1,000 Recommended 140010 Apricots 2.0* - 60 Recommended 140040 Plums 2.0* - 1 Further consideration needed 151010 Table grapes 100 60 100 Recommended 154020 Cranberries 2.0* - 0.1* Further consideration needed 161010 Dates 2.0* - 0.15 Further consideration needed 161020 Figs 2.0* - 0.3 Further consideration needed 401020 Peanuts/groundnuts 2.0* - 3 Further consideration needed Enforcement residue definition (existing): fosetyl-Al (sum of fosetyl, phosphonic acid and their salts, expressed as fosetyl). Enforcement residue definition 1 (proposed): phosphonic acid and its salts expressed as phosphonic acid. * Indicates that the MRL is set at the limit of quantification.   Reasoned opinion on the joint review of maximum residue levels (MRLs) for fosetyl, disodium phosphonate and potassium phosphonates according to Articles 12 and 43 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2021;19(8):6782. EFSA: Flutolanil, Import Tolerance The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a reasoned opinion on import tolerance for flutolanil in peanuts.   The data submitted in support of the request to set an import tolerance for the active substance flutolanil in peanuts were found to be sufficient to derive maximum residue level (MRL) proposal for peanuts. Based on the risk assessment results, EFSA concluded that the short-term and long-term intake of residues resulting from the use of flutolanil according to the reported agricultural practice is unlikely to present a risk to consumer health. Therefore, EFSA proposes to amend the existing MRL as follows: Code Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments 401020 Peanuts/ groundnuts 0.01* 0.02 The submitted data are sufficient to derive an import tolerance (US GAP). Risk for consumers unlikely. US: United States; GAP: Good Agricultural Practice *Indicates that the MRL is set at the limit of analytical quantification (LOQ).   Setting of an import tolerance for flutolanil in peanuts. EFSA Journal 2021;19(8):6717 EU: Pesticide Withdrawals The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1379 of 19 August 2021 concerning the non-renewal of approval of the active substance famoxadone, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   The Regulation establishes that the approval of the active substance famoxadone is not renewed and, therefore, existing authorized plant protection products containing this substance will be withdrawn from the market. This decision does not affect the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for residues of these pesticides. However, following the non-approval, separate actions may be taken on the MRLs.   It entered into force on August 21, 2021.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1379 of 19 August 2021 Japan: MRLs Update The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan notified the World Trade Organization of the Revision of the Standards and Specifications for Foods and Food Additives under the Food Sanitation Act (revision of agricultural chemical residue standards).   The MRL for captan in walnuts is increased from 0.01 ppm to 0.5 ppm. The WTO notification can be found here.   The MRL for pyriofenone in cranberries is increased from 0.01 ppm to 0.5 ppm. The WTO notification can be found here.   The MRL for cypermethrinin in peanuts is increased from 0.05 ppm to 0.1 ppm, in cranberries from 0.5 ppm to 0.8 ppm, in almonds and walnuts from 0.03 ppm to 0.05 ppm. However, the MRL is decreased in dates from 0.03 ppm to 0.01 ppm and in other nuts from 0.2 ppm to 0.1 ppm. The WTO notification can be found here.   The final date for comments is November 1, 2021. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-september-8-2021Sustainability Update: September 8, 2021EU: Controls on Organic Production On August 11, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1325 of 10 August 2021 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/977 as regards the period of application of the temporary measures in relation to controls on the production of organic.   The Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/977 allows Member States to apply temporary measures in relation to the control system on the production of organic products and certain procedures provided for in the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES). As Member States have informed the Commission that, in view of the crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain serious disruptions in the functioning of their control systems in the organic sector will persist beyond July 1, 2021, the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/977 will be amended as follows: (1) in Article 1(7), the date ‘1 July 2021’ is replaced by ‘31 December 2021’; (2) in Article 3, second, third, fourth and fifth paragraphs, the date ‘1 July 2021’ is replaced by ‘31 December 2021’.   It shall apply from July 1, 2021.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1325 of 10 August 2021 EU: Organic Production, Third Countries and Control Authorities In addition, on August 16, the European Commission published the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1342 of 27 May 2021 supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council, with rules on the information to be sent by third countries and by control authorities and control bodies for the purpose of supervision of their recognition under Article 33(2) and (3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, for imported organic products and the measures to be taken in the exercise of that supervision.   This Regulation establishes the supervision of third countries and control authorities/bodies, and a review of their recognition.   It shall apply from January 1, 2022.   Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1342 of 27 May 2021. EU: Organic farming, Operators’ Records and Declarations The European Commission is requesting comments on the Draft Commission Implementing Regulation laying down detailed rules on certain records and declarations required from operators and groups of operators and on the technical means for the issuance of certificates in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council.   Under new EU rules on organic farming, operators must keep records to ensure that authorities can carry out checks on preventive measures, traceability and mass balance (balance between products entering and leaving the production site). The draft sets out the specifications for these records, including details on the declarations that operators must submit to official control authorities on their organic production.   The deadline for comments is October 1, 2021.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-september-8-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: September 1, 2021The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is about 216.9 million and the number of deaths is close to 4.5 million. The highest numbers of new cases were reported from the United States of America (8% decrease), India (17% increase), the Islamic Republic of Iran (similar to the previous week), the UK (8% increase), and Brazil (16% decrease).   According to Bloomberg, globally, the vaccination rate is about 41 million doses per day, having administered more than 5.26 billion doses across 183 countries. With 80% of its population fully vaccinated, Singapore has the world&#39;s highest rate of complete vaccinations. However “Less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50% in high‑income countries”, it was stated during the third meeting of the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on COVID-19 with the leaders of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa CDC, Gavi and UNICEF.   The necessity of a COVID-19 booster jab is under debate. Israel is allowing all citizens over the age of 12 and who received the second shot at least five months ago to receive a third dose of the vaccine. The US, with about 52% of the population fully vaccinated, approved the administration of a third dose of the Comirnaty/Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in some immunocompromised people. In the European Union there is not a consensus: Germany is going to offer boosters to immunocompromised patients, the very elderly and nursing home residents from September; Hungary already started giving a third dose to anyone who received full vaccination at least four months ago, while some other Member States are still waiting for recommendations from the EU.   In Australia, Melbourne is extending its four-week lockdown in order to stop the spread of the Delta variant. The government is yet to outline which restrictions will remain in place.   On August 30, the European Council updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America were removed from the list. Member states should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity). The same day, the US raised the travel risk alert for Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Canada, and other countries. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-september-1-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: August 2021EU-Thailand: Free Trade Agreement The European Union (EU) and Thailand agreed to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), seven years after talks collapsed in 2014. If the two sides complete a deal, it would be the EU’s third FTA with an ASEAN member state, following agreements with Singapore and Vietnam.   More information UK-New Zealand: Free Trade Agreement The UK and New Zealand are close to reaching an agreement in principle on a free trade deal. The trade agreement could see the removal of tariffs on British and New Zealand goods.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-august-2021Promotions Update: August 2021USA: California Prunes, Increased Assessment Rate On August 12, the Agricultural Marketing Service published in the Federal Register the final rule that increases the assessment rate from $0.25 to $0.28 per ton of salable dried prunes.   This rule implements a recommendation from the Prune Marketing Committee to increase the assessment rate established for the 2020-21 and subsequent crop years. The assessment rate will remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.   The rule is effective as of September 13, 2021.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/promotions-update-august-2021Labeling Update: August 2021USA: Food Labeling Modernization Act On August 3, the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2021 was introduced to the House and the Senate with the aim of establishing a single, standard front-of-package nutrition labeling system.   The bill is intended to strengthen current law to target trends in marketing that confuse or mislead consumers when they are attempting to compare food products. Specifically, the legislation will require new guidelines for the use of the words “natural” and “healthy”.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-update-august-2021Pesticides Update: August 2021EU: MRLs Update The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1247 of 29 July 2021 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for mandestrobin in grapes and strawberries   For grapes, the MRL for mandestrobin is increased from 0.01* ppm to 5.0 ppm. This Regulation entered into force on August 19, 2021. EU: Pesticides, Standing Committee The Report of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section ‘Phytopharmaceuticals – Pesticide Residues’ that took place on June 14-15, 2021, has been published (summary). Among others, the following draft regulations had a favorable opinion: Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annexes II, III and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for acibenzolar-S-methyl, aqueous extract from the germinated seeds of sweet Lupinus albus, azoxystrobin, clopyralid, cyflufenamid, fludioxonil, fluopyram, fosetyl, metazachlor, oxathiapiprolin, tebufenozide and thiabendazole in or on certain products (Art. 10) (here). The MRL for acibenzolar-S-methyl in hazelnuts is set at 0.2 ppm. The MRL for tebufenozide in apricots is set at 1.5 ppm. The MRL for fludioxonil in cranberries is set at 4 ppm. The MRL for fosetyl-Al in almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts is increased at 1500 ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for cyprodinil in or on certain products (Art. 10) (here). The MRL for cyprodinil in cranberries is set at 8 ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for amisulbrom, flubendiamide, meptyldinocap (DE-126), metaflumizone, propineb in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for amisulbrom in grapes is set at 0.5 ppm. The MRL for flubendiamide in apricots and plums is set at 2 ppm. The MRL for meptyldinocap in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm and in grapes at 0.2 ppm. The MRL for metaflumizone in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for propineb in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.2* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for 6-benzyladenine and aminopyralid in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for 6-benzyladenine in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, and figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for aminopyralid in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.05* ppm, in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for flupyradifurone and difluoroacetic acid in or on certain products (Art. 10) (here). The MRL for difluoroacetic in tree nuts is set at 0.04 ppm and in peanuts at 0.06 ppm. The MRL for flupyradifurone in tree nuts is set at 0.02 ppm, in grapes at 3 ppm, and in peanuts at 0.04 ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) …/… amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for imidacloprid in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for imidacloprid in tree nuts, apricots, plums, dates and figs is set at 0.01* ppm, in grapes at 0.7 ppm, in cranberries at 5 ppm, and in peanuts at 0.5 ppm. * Indicates lower limit of determination. EU: Pesticide Renewal The European Commission has notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning renewing the approval of the active substance cypermethrin as a candidate for substitution in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   The new expiration of approval is January 31, 2029. It is expected to be published during the fourth quarter of 2021 and it shall apply from February 1, 2022.   The WTO notification can be found here. EU: Pesticide Withdrawals The European Commission notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the non-renewal of approval of the active substance indoxacarb, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   The Draft provides that the approval of the active substance indoxacarb is not renewed and, therefore, existing authorized plant protection products containing this substance will be withdrawn from the market. This decision does not affect the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for residues of these pesticides. However, following the non-approval, separate action may be taken on the MRLs.   The deadline for comments is October 1, 2021.   Currently, the MRL for indoxacarb in tree nuts, dates, figs and peanuts is 0.02* ppm; in apricots, plums and cranberries is 1 ppm; and in grapes is 2 ppm.   *Indicates lower limit of determination.   The WTO notification can be found here. Japan: MRLs Update The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan notified the World Trade Organization of the Revision of the Standards and Specifications for Foods and Food Additives under the Food Sanitation Act (revision of agricultural chemical residue standards).   The MRL for benzovindiflupyr in peanuts is increased from 0.02 ppm to 0.04 ppm.   The WTO notification can be found here. USA: MRLs Update The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established tolerances for residues of zeta-cypermethrin in or on multiple commodities.   Among others, the tolerance of zeta-cypermethrin in Nut, tree, group 14-12 and in peanut is set at 0.05 ppm, in Caneberry subgroup 13-07A at 0.8 ppm, and in Fruit, stone, group 12-12 at 2 ppm. This regulation is effective since August 4, 2021. Objections and requests must be received on or before October 4, 2021.   Federal Register Vol. 86, No. 147. Wednesday, August 4, 2021. Pages 41895-41906 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-august-2021Food Safety Update: August 2021Codex: Total Aflatoxins in Ready to Eat Peanuts, Call for Data The latest annual session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods (CCCF) agreed to establish an electronic working group (EWG) led by India to establish maximum levels (MLS) for total aflatoxins in ready to eat peanuts for consideration in the next CCCF meeting in 2022.   On July 20, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a call for data on total aflatoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts for the EWG. Data should cover the last 10 years.   Submissions should be sent in via the GEMS/Food database before October 15, 2021. This should allow time for data analysis and drafting of the paper by the EWG.   More information EU: New ML for Cadmium As previously announced, the European Commission has set new maximum levels of cadmium in tree nuts and peanuts.   Maximum level (mg/kg wet weight): Tree nuts, except pine nuts: 0.20 Pine nuts: 0.30 Peanuts: 0.20 This Regulation will enter into force on August 31, 2021. Foodstuffs that were lawfully placed on the market before the entry into force may remain on the market until  February 28, 2022.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1323 of 10 August 2021 amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of cadmium in certain foodstuffs EFSA: Food Additives Re-evaluation The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been requested by the European Commission (EC) to provide an updated scientific opinion as regards the safety of the food additives sulphur dioxide–sulphites (E 220–228).   Specifically, the EC asked EFSA to re-evaluate the database and the temporary group ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) for the food additives sulphur dioxide (E 220), sodium sulphite (E 221), sodium bisulphite (E 222), sodium metabisulphite (E 223), potassium metabisulphite (E 224), calcium sulphite (E 226), calcium bisulphite (E 227) and potassium bisulphite (E 228), as well as to refine the exposure assessment for them, taking into account the latest data submitted by business operators.   EFSA’s scientific opinion should be delivered by February 2022.   FAO: Guidance for Preventing Transmission of COVID-19 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published the COVID-19: Guidance for preventing transmission of COVID-19 within Food Businesses.   Updated with new evidence, this guidance highlights additional measures that food businesses and authorities regulating the sector can take to protect workers from person-to-person spread of COVID-19. The guidelines are to help ensure that the integrity of the food chain is maintained and adequate, and safe food supplies are available for consumers.   While COVID-19 may pose an occupational safety risk for workers in any type of business or industry where individuals work in close proximity to one another, coronavirus itself is not considered a direct food safety hazard. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-august-2021Sustainability Update: July 28, 2021EU: Certificate of Organic Production On June 22, 2021, the European Commission published the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1006 of 12 April 2021 amending Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the model of the certificate attesting compliance with the rules on organic production.   This Regulation replaces the model of the certificate to be issued to any operator or group of operators that have notified its activity to the competent authorities. To ensure a harmonized implementation, the model of the certificate contains common elements, which are mandatory in all Member States, such as the name and address, the activities of operators and categories of products.   It shall apply from January 1, 2022. EU: Code of Conduct On July 5, the European Commission officially launched the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices with the aim of increasing the availability and affordability of healthy and sustainable food options that help reduce our overall environmental footprint.    This Code is one of the first deliverables of the Farm to Fork Strategy and an integral part of its action plan. It contains voluntary commitments for action together with a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress. EU associations and companies in the food sector are invited to join the Code. At its launching, 65 signatories (26 food manufacturers, 14 food retailers, 1 from the food service sector, 24 associations) voluntarily commit to the sustainability goals of the Code.   EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices EU: Climate Neutrality On July 9, the European Commission (EC) published the Regulation (EU) 2021/1119 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 2021 establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality and amending Regulations (EC) No 401/2009 and (EU) 2018/1999.   This Regulation establishes a framework for the reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and enhancement of removals by sinks regulated in Union law. It sets out a binding objective of climate neutrality in the Union by 2050 –reducing emission to net zero. As intermediate climate targets, by 2030, the domestic reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions (emissions after deduction of removals) should be by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels.   This Regulation will enter into force on 29 July.   To achieve the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, the EC adopted a package of proposals on July 14. These proposals are the legislative tools to deliver on the targets agreed in the European Climate Law.   They combine: application of emissions trading to new sectors and a tightening of the existing EU Emissions Trading System; increased use of renewable energy; greater energy efficiency; a faster roll-out of low emission transport modes and the infrastructure and fuels to support them; an alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives; measures to prevent carbon leakage; and tools to preserve and grow natural carbon sinks.   With the same objective, the New EU Forest Strategy for 2030 was adopted on July 16. The strategy contributes to the package of measures proposed to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050. It will also help the EU deliver on its commitment to enhance carbon removals by natural sinks as per the Climate Law.   The Forest Strategy sets concrete actions for increasing the quantity and quality of forests in the EU and strengthening their protection, restoration and resilience. It also foresees the development of payment schemes to forest owners and managers, and proposes to step up forest monitoring, reporting and data collection in the EU (more information).   To that end, the Strategy includes a roadmap outlining how the Commission will help to achieve the 3 billion additional trees pledge. To achieve this target, the additional trees need to be planted and grown in full respect of ecological principles –the right tree, right place and right purpose. EU: Due Diligence On July 13, the European Commission (EC) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) published a Guidance on due diligence to help companies to address the risk of forced labor in their operations and supply chains, in line with international standards.   This document is intended to provide European companies with practical guidance to implement effective human rights due diligence practices to address the risk of forced labor in their supply chains. In particular, the guidance explains the practical aspects of due diligence and provides an overview of international standards on responsible business conduct and due diligence that are relevant for combatting forced labor. The EC is expected to publish a legislative proposal on supply chain due diligence during the fourth quarter of 2021. This upcoming legislation should introduce a mandatory due diligence duty requiring EU companies to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for sustainability impacts in their operations and supply chains.   See the press release here. UN: Food Systems Pre-Summit In partnership with the Government of Italy, the Pre-Summit of the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit is taking place in Rome from July 26-28, 2021. This event will consolidate the progress that has been achieved through the Summit’s wide-ranging process of diverse public engagement, consultations and data gathering that began in 2020, setting the stage for an ambitious and productive Summit in September 2021 in New York.   The Pre-Submit will bring together youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance, among other participants, with the broad aim of accelerating food systems transformation.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-july-28-2021Pesticides Update: July 2021Australia: MRLS Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued a proposal to amend Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (July 13, 2021).   Among other changes, the table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The maximum residue limit (MRL) for Benzyladenine in pistachio nut at T*0.05 ppm is omitted. The MRL for Benzyladenine in all other foods (except animal food commodities) at 0.01 ppm and walnut at T*0.005 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Pyroxasulfone in all other foods (except animal food commodities) at 0.01 ppm is inserted. * indicates that the maximum residue limit is set at the limit of determination. ‘T’ indicates that the maximum residue limit is a temporary maximum residue limit.   The deadline for comments is August 10, 2021.   The proposal can be found here (pp. 23-27). EU: MRLs Update The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/1098 of 2 July 2021 amending Annexes II, III and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for 24-epibrassinolide, Allium cepa L. bulb extract, cyflumetofen, fludioxonil, fluroxypyr, sodium 5-nitroguaiacolate, sodium o-nitrophenolate and sodium p-nitrophenolate in or on certain products.   The MRL for cyflumetofen is set at 0.3 ppm in apricots.   This Regulation entered into force on July 26, 2021.   In addition, the EC published the Commission Regulation (EU 2021/1110) of 6 July 2021 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for ametoctradin, bixafen, fenazaquin, spinetoram, tefluthrin and thiencarbazone-methyl in or on certain products.   As previously announced, the Regulation establishes the following MRLs: The MRL for fenazaquin is lowered from 0.2 to 0.01* ppm in grapes. The MRL for spinetoram is lowered from 0.05* to 0.02* ppm in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts; and from 0.5 to 0.4 ppm in grapes. The MRL for tefluthrin is lowered from 0.05 to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs, and peanuts. The MRL for thiencarbazone-methyl is set at 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs, and peanuts. This Regulation shall apply from January 27, 2022. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-july-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: July 2021Argentina: Export Duties Reduction The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries of Argentina has eliminated the export duties of 17 agro-industrial products from regional economies (Decree 410/2021). The measure covers peanuts among other food items.   The process of reducing Export Duties of Regional Economies began in December 2019 and there are now 67 items with zero fiscal cost.   More information Australia-UK: Free Trade Agreement Australia and UK reached an agreement in principle, being the first major bilateral free trade agreement by the UK since it left the European Union. They commit to establishing mechanisms that will provide for the liberalization of tariffs on each other’s goods and that will address non-tariff barriers to trade between our two countries. China: Yantian Port Yantian Port, the third busiest port in China, reopened at the end of June after an outbreak of COVID-19 caused it to shutdown earlier in June. The port’s capacity since then had been reduced to about 30% of its normal levels. EU: Suspension of Tariffs on US Goods The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1123 of 8 July 2021 suspending commercial policy measures concerning certain products from the United States of America imposed by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1646 following the adjudication of a trade dispute under the Dispute Settlement Understanding of the World Trade Organization.   The application of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1646 is hereby suspended for a period of five years from July 11, 2021. The 25% duty on peanuts inshell (1202 41) and shelled (1202 42) is removed. EU: WCO Modernization The European Commission published its proposal for a reform of the World Custom’s Organization (WCO). The reform would have the following objectives: make the Organization a more effective and efficient actor for the promotion of safe, secure and licit trade, support customs policies worldwide that address global issues, contribute to sustainable development, remain fit for purpose in the digital world. The first step will be to define the WCO’s longer-term priorities and thus go far beyond the three years cycle of the Strategic Plan. In addition, a three-step approach is proposed: Greater focus and clarity of the Organization’s strategic priorities. Good governance methods in the management of the Organization. Sustainable funding for the functioning of the Organization. Towards WCO modernization: Reforming the World Customs Organization Turkey-Ukraine: Draft Free Trade Agreement Ministers of Turkey and Ukraine are discussing an action plan to work on a draft Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.   More information Turkey-Malaysia: Free Trade Agreement Expansion Turkey and Malaysia signed a joint declaration to expand the existing Trade Agreement between the two countries on July 13. It is expected that the discussions start in September. The current FTA came into effect in 2015.   More information UK-Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein: Free Trade Agreement The United Kingdom has signed a free trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on July 8. The agreement is expected to boost trading relationships and critical sectors like digital, financial, and professional business services. It will remove tariffs and offer new duty-free quotas on exports of UK food and farm products.   Free Trade Agreement between Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland UK: Trade Preferences On July 19, the UK Department for International Trade launched a consultation on the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (UK preferences scheme) to know opinions about proposed changes. The consultation will be open for eight weeks to businesses, the public, civil society groups, consumers, associations, partner governments, and any other interested stakeholders.   In particular, they are asking views on: rules of origin requirements for least developed countries (LDCs) reducing tariffs for low income and lower-middle-income countries the approach to goods graduation, which suspends reduced rates on some goods the conditions and reporting requirements for low or lower-middle-income countries The new UK preferences scheme will take effect in 2022. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-july-2021Food Safety Update: July 2021Chile: Peanut Import Requirements The Agriculture and Livestock Service of Chile notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the Resolution No 4026/2021, amending the Resolution No 4143/2018, as regards the import requirements for peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.).   Chile has approved the treatments in origin with methyl bromide and phosphine to control certain insects.   This resolution entered into force on July 8, 2021.   Please see the WTO notification here. ECHA: SO2 Re-classification According to the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products (FRUCOM), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is revising the classification of the active substance sulfur dioxide (SO2). An additional classification of germ-cell mutagenicity cat. 2, as well as skin sensitization, is proposed. If adopted, this would have a significant impact on the food production industry since it is used in several food production processes such as in dried apricots. UK: Official Controls, Temporary Measures The UK has extended the period of application of existing easements in official controls in operation in Great Britain, in order to contain risks of serious disruption to the system caused by COVID-19. The deadline for application is substituted by December 31, 2021 (instead of July 1, 2021).   2021 No. 681. Official Controls (Temporary Measures) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-july-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: July 28, 2021The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds 194.6 million and the number of deaths is over 4.1 million. The global number of new cases reported last week increased by 8% as compared to the previous week. America reported the largest increase in case incidence, followed by the Western Pacific Region. The number of deaths also increased sharply, a 21% increase when compared to the previous week. The number of new deaths increased in all regions except Europe where it remained similar to the previous week.   According to Bloomberg, more than 3.93 billion doses have been administered across 180 countries, which should be enough to fully vaccinate 25.6% of the world population, but inequitable vaccination is still present. “More than three-and-a-half billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, and more than one in four people have received at least one vaccine dose. 75% of vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. In low income countries, only 1% of people have received at least one dose, compared with more than half of people in high-income countries”, stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom, head of the WHO, during his speech at the 138th International Olympic Committee Session on July 21.   In some countries, lawmakers are encouraging vaccine uptake. France approved a law requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel, and mandating vaccinations for all health workers. Italians will need to show a certificate known as the “Green Pass” if they want to partake in indoor activities (restaurants, museums, gyms and other public venues) from August 6. Greece also imposed mandatory inoculations for some workers, such as healthcare and nursing staff. The US made vaccines mandatory for certain federal workers and is looking for further steps to immunize the country. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-july-28-2021Italy: Samurai Wasp Authorized to Combat Halyomorpha halysThe new "Biological Control of the Asian stink bug through the release of its antagonist, the small Samurai wasp (Trissolcus japonicus)" Program was developed by the Council for Research in Agriculture and Analysis of the Agricultural Economy (CREA).   The use of the Samurai wasp was authorized in the regions of Marche, Campania, Liguria, Sardegna, Lazio and Umbria.   In the region of Campania, the first releases of the wasp started on July 27. According to the agricultural cooperative CERERE, technicians from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) carried out the first launches of the wasp in the upper Caserta area (Teano). For each farm, about 230 individuals between males and females were released. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/italy-samurai-wasp-authorized-to-combat-halyomorpha-halysAlmond 2021/2022 Crop Forecast  Almonds USA According to the Almond Board of California June 2021 Position Report, published on July 9, receipts through June 30 added up to 3.1 billion lbs. (1.4 million metric tons). Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 uncertainties, tariffs and global logistics issues, demand performance has been the highlight this season. Overall shipments through June 30 amounted to 2.7 B lbs. (1.2 MM MT), up by 22% from 2019/20, with significant international shipments of 1.9 B lbs. (876,000 MT), increased by 30%. A phenomenal growth was observed in all regions. Asia-Pacific led the increment (42%), being India and China the two fastest-growing markets. Up by 31%, the Middle East/Africa continues to be very strong. Increment in Europe (20%) is led by strong snacking and domestic demand.   As per the USDA NASS 2021 California Almond Objective Measurement Report (released July 12), the objective crop forecast stands at 2.8 B lbs. (1.3 MM MT), 13% down from May’s subjective forecast and based on 1.3 MM bearing acres (538,200 hectares). Although bloom conditions were excellent, the lack of spring rainfall and record high temperatures in June resulted in lower than initially expected output. Almonds Australia The 2021 harvest was completed after a slow start in the eastern growing region because of rain. Based on hulling and shelling results, quality and kernel yield are better than last year. The first six months shipments are expected to be well above last year’s slow start to the marketing year, provided shipping containers are available.   Regarding the outlook for the 2022 crop, chill hours are adequate with bloom to commence in July. Water storages continue to fill with good recent rain events. Nursery sales indicate that new plantings have significantly slowed down, to around 1,000 hectares in 2020. This slowing is likely to continue due to lack of water security and reduced grower returns from a stronger Australian dollar and lower world prices.   Despite the large Californian crop and market disruptions related to COVID-19, exports of 76,710 MT were very similar to the previous year (up 0.2% from 2019). In 2019, 73% of the crop was shipped in the first 6 months, from March to August, while in 2020, only 50% of the crop was shipped within the first six months. This resulted in a larger than normal overlap of the southern hemisphere crop being marketed at a similar time to the northern hemisphere crop. Domestic demand was up 7%, led by the pandemic lockdown. Almonds Spain The final 2020/21 crop is estimated at over 115, 000 MT based on 587,000 ha. Carry out is larger than last year, due to the decrease in domestic demand caused by the lack of tourists entering and consuming within the country. It is estimated that an average of 80 million (pre-pandemic) visitors a year consume around 10-15,000 MT of almonds. Total shipment demand in 2020/21 amounted to 96,633 MT, up 16% from 2019/20, from which 57% were international shipments and the remaining 43% were domestic sales.   Although bearing hectares in 2021/22 (607,600 ha) increased by 4% from last year, the crop is expected to be 6% down, as a very severe frost in mid-March affected the production.   Based on a yearly cultivation of around 15 million trees and 100,000 non-bearing hectares, Spanish almond production is projected to reach 185,000 by 2025. Although around 85% of the planted area in Spain is rainfed, the 15% planted under irrigation is already producing 50% of the total crop. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/almond-2021-2022-crop-forecastPistachio 2021/2022 Crop Forecast Pistachios USA Next crop weather conditions were favorable, with enough chill hours from November to February and a good bloom period, so expectations are that the 2021/22 is going to be a large off year. There is a relatively large carry-over into 2021/22, which is going to help to stabilize supply.   Although there are some ongoing water issues in California, water availability is expected to be sufficient for this season. Besides, sustainable farming is on the rise, more and more growers are using agronomical practices to improve water penetration. There is also increased use of cover crops and compost, which leads to reduce water needs. Pistachio quality has also improved in recent years, primarily, due to farmers harvesting early and shaking twice, undergoing winter sanitation and utilizing mating disruption pest control.   There are new plantings going in every year, at an approximate rate of 5-7% increase per year. And some of these new plantings entering into production will reflect in the 2021 crop. It is anticipated that the industry will continue to grow, the demand has been strong, and at least in the near term, it will meet the growing supply. Some of the pandemic-related habits, that led to around a 10% consumption increase in the snacking category, are expected to continue in the long term. Additionally, the kernel market has grown dramatically during this last year. The biggest challenge for the California pistachio industry is the ongoing tariffs into the Chinese market and the trade barriers that have put the US product at disadvantage. Pistachios Iran As reported by the Iran Pistachio Association, the current crop is expected to be around 150,000 metric tons (in-shell basis) due to severe frost and heat damages. Preliminary, the 2021/22 crop will be composed of 36% Ahmad Aghaei, 32% Fandoghi, 17% Jumbo and 15% is Akbari. The small percentage of Akbari is due to the frost damage, that impacted more this particular cultivar than the others.   Out of the 31 states in Iran, 27 of them cultivate pistachio, with some new plantings. All together they add up to 340,000 ha of bearing pistachio orchards. Although productivity is very variable, from 100 to 4,000 kg/ha, the geographical diversity is likely to reduce production fluctuations and the Iranian crop is expected to reach around 200,000 MT on average during the next 4-5 years. New plantings consist mostly of long varieties (AA and Akbari), so this kind of cultivar is foreseen to dominate the production. Pistachios Turkey For the 2021/22 season, a strong off-year is expected, weather conditions were adequate, with average rainfall, but with lower-than-average chilling hours and really exhausted trees from last year&#39;s record crop. Based on 540,000 bearing acres (218,000 hectares), the new crop is forecasted to yield about 500 pounds per acre (560 kg/ha), which is very low, and around 89,000 MT in-shell.   In Turkey, new plantings have been increasing over the previous ten years. Around 380,000 acres (153,000 ha) of the total planted area are yet not bearing. Growing regions are expanding towards the South East of the country, and new plantings are under irrigation and applying modern agronomical practices, which will noticeably improve yield per unit land area compared to the national average. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pistachio-2021-2022-crop-forecastCOVID-19 Update: July 21, 2021The latest WHO COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update estimates that the cumulative number of cases reported globally could exceed 200 million in the next three weeks. Last week, Western Pacific Region recorded the largest increase in case incidence as compared to the previous week, followed by the European Region (30% and 21%, respectively). The number of deaths increased in the South-East Asia and the Western Pacific Regions by 12% and 10%, respectively. After a sustained decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the WHO is alerting that the Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and inconsistent use of public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths. Delta is present in more than 124 countries (13 new countries) and WHO expects it to be the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating worldwide very soon.   WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated his concern that inequity has created a two-track pandemic. The WHO goal is to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of 2021, and at least 70% by mid-2022.   Deaths in Africa have risen steeply for the past weeks. Hospital admissions are increasing rapidly while countries face shortages in oxygen and intensive care beds. “This is a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most impacted countries are reaching a breaking point,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. With less than 2% of the population vaccinated, Africa is experiencing its worst surge of cases since the pandemic began.   Asian countries are also battling their worse surge of COVID-19 infections. Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea have all imposed new lockdown restrictions. Only a small part of the population is vaccinated due to the shortage of vaccines. In Thailand, only about 15% of people have had at least one shot, and in Vietnam only about 4% have. In Indonesia, about 14% of its population has at least one dose. Indonesia has become the new COVID-19 epicenter in Asia, surpassing India and Brazil in daily case numbers as the Delta variant drives up infections.    The effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the Delta variant has been reported by the company. Although the vaccine showed a small drop in potency against the Delta variant, it is more effective than against the Beta variant. UN The COVID pandemic has had a negative impact on health and well-being; employment, businesses, incomes, education; and human rights. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, said that the pandemic has reversed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) progress during the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. She remarked that there can be no pandemic recovery without “international solidarity and cooperation”.   On July 14, the WHO and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reported that the pandemic has caused a major backsliding in childhood vaccinations, with South East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean most affected. As a consequence, the number of children not receiving vital first vaccine doses has increased. Australia The Australian state of Victoria entered snap lockdown from July 15 until July 20, after detecting 18 positive cases. This is its fifth lockdown since the pandemic began. However, the lockdown was extended beyond July 20 despite a slight drop in new infections. New South Wales is also in a five-week lockdown, which will last until the end of the month. Only around 10% of Australia&#39;s adult population is fully vaccinated. China Dr. Adhanom urged China to be more cooperative with the WHO&#39;s second phase of the investigation into the origins of COVID-19. The first phase of WHO&#39;s investigation ended in February.   China has administered more than 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The government has increased COVID-19 controls on the border with Myanmar, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, amid Delta variant fears. EU The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control predicts a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, with nearly five times last week&#39;s level by August 1. The number of hospitalizations and deaths is expected to increase at a much slower pace.   The EU Digital COVID Certificate is available for European citizens with the aim of facilitating safe and free movement in the EU during the pandemic as it exempts holders from restrictions such as quarantine. In addition, the European Commission (EC) updated the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted: Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list and Ukraine was added to the list.   The EC continues to support the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences with financing. In the last days, the EC has adopted a positive assessment of the recovery and resilience plan (under the Recovery and Resilience Facility) for Slovenia (€2.5 billion), Lithuania (€2.2 billion), Cyprus (€1.2 billion) and Czechia (€7 billion). In addition, under the State aid, Italy will receive financing to support self-employed and healthcare professionals in the context of coronavirus outbreak, Germany to reimburse travelers in case of insolvency of package travel organizers, and Spain to support companies affected. Alitalia, a major network airline operating in Italy, will be also compensated for the damages suffered with €39.7 million.   Team Europe, one of the leading donors of the COVAX Facility, and the Republic of Senegal have agreed to build a manufacturing plant to produce vaccines against COVID-19 and other endemic diseases. The new manufacturing plant should reduce Africa&#39;s 99% dependence on vaccine imports and strengthen future pandemic resilience on the continent. Construction of the new plant is expected to start later this year, with 25 million vaccine doses being produced each month by the end of 2022.  Belgium Belgium set new rules for travelers returning from “high-risk” areas who are not fully vaccinated. They will be required to take a PCR test on the first and seventh day after arrival. However, the day-one test is not necessary if the person took a PCR test in the 72 hours preceding their arrival. If the result is positive, they will be required to quarantine for 10 days. France On July 12, France announced that health workers must get COVID-19 jabs. In September, those workers not vaccinated could be sanctioned for non-compliance. Furthermore, anyone wanting access to the most public places (cinemas, theaters, museums, long-distance trains, shopping centers, hospitals…) will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. These measures aim to boost vaccination rates and fight against the new Delta variant. Germany Germany reclassified the Netherlands and Greece, two of the most popular vacation destinations, as coronavirus risk areas. People returning from these spots are expected to provide a negative test if they are not vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19. Italy With more than 62 million doses administered, over half of Italy is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Spain Amid an explosion of new COVID-19 cases, especially among young people, a new nightly curfew has been imposed in some areas. In addition, the Balearic and Canary Islands are no longer classed as safe travel areas for UK tourists. The Netherlands also moved Spain to its amber list of destinations. India According to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 86% of vaccinated Indians (among 677 participants) who got COVID-19 were infected by the Delta variant. However, the death rate among vaccinated individuals was found to be very low. Out of these 677 positive participants, 71 were vaccinated with Covaxin, 604 with Covishield, and two with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.  Japan Five days before the start of the Olympic Games, two positive cases for coronavirus have been detected in the athletes’ village. The two South African footballers, as well as 21 close contacts (players and officials) are confined to their rooms. In addition, a US gymnast also tested positive and a team member has been identified as a close contact. Both athletes have been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. In addition, six athletes and two staff members from Team GB&#39;s athletics team are self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive after they arrived in Tokyo on July 16.  In Japan, just over 29% of the country&#39;s population has been vaccinated with at least one dose and about 18% is fully vaccinated. South Africa Amid the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant, South Africa has reported records in new daily infections surpassing the highest in previous waves. In addition, some hospitals are at full capacity and have had to cancel elective surgeries to free up beds. Vaccinations are facing delays after pharmacy lootings. Only over 4.2 million of the country’s 59 million people have been immunized. The government is targeting administering a quarter of million jabs per day. Turkey Turkey started a new normalization phase on July 1, eliminating practically all virus-related restrictions, owing to a national decline in infections and an expedited vaccination effort –over 62.74% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose. The country continues its intensive vaccination campaign as all residents 18 and over are eligible for vaccine shots. UK The UK tightened rules for travelers from France who will have to quarantine for 10 days even if they have been fully vaccinated. This new rule, announced on July 16, entered into force on Monday, July 19. The restriction comes amid UK fears that the Beta variant, firstly identified in South Africa, could spread from France.   The UK is not yet recognizing EU COVID vaccine certificates. According to EUROACTIV, there are talks ongoing at a technical level with the UK, which are ”progressing well and going in the right direction”, a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV.   On July 19, England removed most of its COVID-19 restrictions. Among others, the use of face masks is no longer compulsory and there are no limits on how many people can meet or attend events. As more than 68% of UK adults are fully vaccinated, it is expected that serious illness and deaths from COVID-19 will be at a lower level than in earlier peaks.   In Scotland, although the restrictions will be eased, the mandatory use of face coverings will remain in place for "some time", First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. USA COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising again after months of decline, driven by the fast-spreading Delta variant, lagging vaccination rates and Fourth of July gatherings. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people.   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55.8% of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 shot. About 48.3% of the total population has been fully vaccinated. The latest report highlights differences in the COVID-19 cumulative death rate and vaccination between urban and rural areas. The cumulative death rate in rural areas is higher than in urban areas, whereas vaccination coverage was lower in rural counties compared to urban counties.   The United States is reviewing whether it can lift restrictions that ban most-non US citizens from traveling to the US from much of Europe. The ban was imposed in March 2020.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-july-21-2021Summary of COVID-19 UpdatesJuly 21, 2021, COVID-19 Update - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds 188.6 million (12% of increase as compared to the previous week) and the number of deaths has surpassed 4 million, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures. A total of about 3.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered.  June 30, 2021, COVID-19 Update - Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds 180.8 million and the number of deaths is close to 4 million. June 16, 2021, COVID-19 Update - Last Monday, June 14, there were more than 175 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally and almost 3.8 million deaths. The number of new cases reported has declined for seven weeks in a row, being “the longest sequence of weekly declines during the pandemic so far”. May 20, 2021, COVID-19 Update - More than 160 million confirmed cases and around 3.4 million deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide. However, new cases and deaths have been slowing down recently, thanks to the progress of the vaccination campaigns and containment measures. May 5, 2021, COVID-19 Update - Continuing with the upward trend of new infections, global COVID-19 cases surpassed 150 million. Last week, around 80,000 new deaths were recorded worldwide, a stark reminder that the pandemic is far from over. To date, more than 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of 19 million jabs given each day.  April 21, 2021, COVID-19 Update - The COVID-19 pandemic continues with its rising trend. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global new cases have been rising for nearly two consecutive months, reaching a total of 141 million reported cases and causing more than 3 million deaths. India, the US and Brazil have experienced high caseloads, accounting for around 40% of last week’s total infections worldwide. April 7, 2021, COVID-19 Update - It’s been another week marked by rising infection rates and deaths worldwide, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Europe and the Americas continue to account for the majority of the new infections. So far, more than 127 million cases and nearly 2.8 million deaths have been recorded. March 24, 2021, COVID-19 Update - With more than 126 million confirmed cases and 2.7 million deaths, the COVID-19 pandemic is still sweeping throughout the world. Several countries, especially in the EU, have strengthened restrictive measures, in an attempt to curb rising infection rates. March 10, 2021, COVID-19 Update  - The coronavirus pandemic continues, having infected more than 115 million people and killed 2.5 million worldwide, while the global vaccine rollout attempts to curb the spread of the virus. Lockdowns and restrictions set to minimize the infection rates around the globe continue to have a substantial impact on international trade and travel. Febraury 24, 2021, COVID-19 Update - The world is currently withstanding a new wave of COVID-19 infections, as the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 111 million people and killed more than 2.4 million globally since late January 2020. The efforts taken by many countries to mitigate the pandemic led to entire nations enforcing lockdowns, widespread halts of international travel, interruptions in trade and supply chain disruptions. February 10, 2021, COVID-19 Update - About a year ago, the WHO declared public health emergency of international concern over the outbreak of the COVID-19. So far, the pandemic has infected more than 105 million people worldwide. As per the latest IMF World Economic Outlook, vaccine approvals have raised hopes of a turnaround in the pandemic. However, the surge of new variants of the virus, as well as new waves of the pandemic, pose concerns for the outlook. Under this uncertain scenario, the global economy is projected to grow 5.5% in 2021. January 27, 2021, COVID-19 Update - The global number of new COVID-19 cases is rapidly increasing. Despite the negative statistics of both infected people and those who died because of the pandemic, mass vaccination campaigns continue worldwide. Several countries imposed or toughened restrictions in order to curb down new infections, which may be caused by new COVID-19 strains.   Shipping costs have risen alarmingly due to delays and lack of containers, presenting a serious risk to the ability of economic recovery. January 13, 2021 COIVD-19 Update - Several countries began mass vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 in December. The WHO announced that vaccines give real hope of bringing the pandemic under control by the end of 2021. However, strict lockdowns and other containment measures are still in place, as several regions reported an increase of COVID-19 cases. December 16, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Despite the recent approval of COVID-19 vaccines in the UK and in the US, the pandemic is far from over: Most countries are reporting spikes of new cases, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Some European countries have tightened restrictions in order to avoid the spread of the virus. Consequently, the upcoming holidays are expected to include restrictions in several regions. December 3, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The G20 Leaders’ Summit highlighted the impact of the pandemic as well as possible coordinated solutions to mitigate its negative consequences. Several nations reported a rising number of new infections, which have seen countries around the world impose new restrictions in recent weeks. However, the significant progress on vaccine development, together with other public health measures, raises hopes of ending the pandemic. November 12, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Global COVID-19 cases surpassed 50 million, and the worldwide death toll is over 1.25 million people. The worst hit regions are the Americas, with over 21.7 million cases, Europe, with over 13.3 million, and South-East Asia, with over 9.5 million confirmed cases. October 28, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Global COVID-19 cases have recently surpassed 40 million. The worst affected countries are the US, India and Brazil. Several nations in the northern hemisphere, such as the US and most EU countries are reporting further containment measures amid an escalation of new cases. However, Australia, South Korea and Singapore are expected to ease some restrictions. October 14, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The WTO reduced the size of global trade contraction in 2020, as lockdowns are globally easing and economies reopening. However, several countries such as China, France, India, South Korea, Spain or the United States are reporting an increase of new COVID-19 cases, and some countries announced further measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. October 1, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Several countries are opting for local restrictions in the most hit areas, as opposed of strict lockdowns nationwide. The IMF has urged countries to enhance global cooperation and multilateral coordination as the most effective tools to beat the pandemic and its economic impact. September 16, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Several countries are facing spikes of COVID-19 cases, although it looks like the number of new infections has decreased globally. There are still travel restrictions in place and, to ease them, the United Nations has urged G20 countries to agree on a common criteria in their removal and to boost coordination in preventive measures, among other recommendations. September 3, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Curfews, travel limitations and other restrictions are still in place in many countries in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. The top priorities of governments and international institutions are: finding a cure, mitigating the effects of the disease while ensuring people’s livelihoods, and avoiding harder socioeconomic impacts. August 4, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The COVID-19 is still dominating headlines every day, and amidst all the uncertainty it seems that the challenge will not be disappearing soon. The World Health Organization states that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. July 20, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Despite certain improvements to the public health situation in some regions, there is concern as COVID-19 cases spike in certain countries. The economic and social situation is still uncertain. July 9, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The COVID-19 seems to be under control in some countries, despite certain spikes in infections in some regions or states, while other countries are reporting rises in the number of coronavirus cases. June 25, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Lockdown and curfew measures have been globally de-escalating and most international borders are gradually reopening. However, new waves of infections have been detected in some countries. According to OECD, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the most severe economic recession in nearly a century. June 10, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The unprecedented recovery plans announced by several countries are expected to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, a few countries have lifted almost all restrictions due to the improvement of the public health situation. However, the WHO has highlighted the importance of food safety amid the outbreak. May 28, 2020, COVID-19 Update - As the public health situation improves globally, several countries continue to relax lockdown and social distancing rules. Consequently, the economy is slowly recovering from disruptions and losses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, FAO warned that famine could be a serious concern in several regions. May 14, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The challenges faced worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic are still visible, as well as the measures in order to adapt or re-adapt in the fast-changing environment of the pandemic. The efforts made by different governments, communities, companies, and people are significant to mitigate the effects of the disease. April 30, 2020, COVID-19 Update - The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still noticeable in the global economy and disrupting agricultural trade due to measures such as border closures and export bans, as well as because of restrictions of movements of people and workers. However, some countries are easing the measures in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.  April 17, 2020, COVID-19 Update  - As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop, this update highlights governmental actions taken to alleviate the pressure of COVID-19. This update also includes news on subjects ranging from IMF Global Growth projections to the importance of worker safety in the food industry. April 9, 2020, COVID-19 Update - Although restrictions are becoming stricter in many countries, governments have prioritized the food supply chain as part of emergency measures. Fortunately, the agri-food sector is recognized as an essential sector and efforts are focused on ensuring food security. This update contains measures taken by individual countries as well as the European Commission. The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources and international organizations. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/measures-to-mitigate-covid-19-1INC Co-sponsors Session at the 38th International Symposium on Diabetes and NutritionThe 38th International Symposium on Diabetes and Nutrition (ISDN) was held virtually from June 21-24, 2021, and was attended by more than 470 participants from more than 30 countries. The INC co-sponsored the session ‘Nuts, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome’, along with the NREF. The session, co-chaired by Dr. Cyril Kendall (University of Toronto, Canada) and Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó (Rovira i Virgili University, Spain), discussed the most relevant studies highlighting the beneficial effects of nut consumption on diabetes, including an INC-funded study on nuts, gut microbiota, and cognition. The INC’s co-sponsored session took place on June 24 and featured four guest speakers who covered some of the most pertinent and recent scientific studies which examine how nut consumption can be beneficial for diabetes and the metabolic system.   Dr. Zhaoping Li from the University of California in the US presented various epidemiologic studies and clinical trials that examined nut consumption and Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). The results from the studies suggest that including nuts in your diet may significantly decrease risks for MetS, which is a cluster of cardiometabolic risk factors like type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia. The protective effects of nuts could be explained by the modulation of inflammation and oxidation.   Prof. Anoop Misra from Fortis C-DOC Healthcare Ltd in India discussed how nuts assist in the management of diabetes. In a review of recent studies, data shows that nut consumption may have beneficial effects on glucose-insulin metabolism and decrease hepatic fat. The data also suggests there is an inverse relation between nut intake and type 2 diabetes and MetS, especially in women. In short-term intervention studies, it was noted that intake of nuts decreased blood glucose levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers, and increased glucagon-like peptide-1 levels.   Next, Dr. Crystal Haskell-Ramsey from Northumbria University in the UK talked about the potential effects of daily tree nut consumption on cognitive function, metabolomics and intestinal microbiota. Studies have shown cognitive benefits of nut consumption. These benefits may be important because a number of studies have shown cognitive impairments in diabetes, which are also linked with alterations in gut microbiota.   Dr. Jagmeet Madan from Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Sciences, SNDT Women’s University in India presented the oral abstract “Effect of Almond Consumption on Glucose Metabolism, Hyperinsulinemia and Selected Markers of Inflammation: A randomized Controlled Trial in Adolescents and Young Adults in Mumbai, India.” Almonds have the potential to reduce hyperinsulinemia and thus improve insulin resistance at a fairly early stage that even precedes prediabetes, in addition to having beneficial effects on HbAIC and some lipid and inflammatory markers. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-co-sponsors-session-at-the-38th-international-symposium-on-diabetes-and-nutritionFunctional Benefits of Raisins in Sweet Baked Goods as Substitute to Animal FatA recent white paper released by the California Raisin Marketing Board examined the functionality of using California raisins, more specifically, raisin paste as a substitute for fat and sugar in sweet baked goods. The research, conducted by food consulting firm CuliNex involved using a basic fudge brownie and then gradually replacing the percentage of total fat from egg yolks and butter with raisin paste.  The research started with a base brownie where 100% of the fat content came from egg yolks and butter and then gradually increased the amount of raisin paste used, using 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. Furthermore, throughout the experiment, they reduced sugar and increased the bitter chocolate to account for the sweetness of the raisin paste. It was noted that at each level of raisin paste usage, the visible crumb and texture of the brownies was relatively unaffected; additionally, the moisture was found to be consistent with the base brownie. At higher percentages of raisin paste usage, the brownies became slightly stickier, but this was considered positive as a slightly undercooked or gooey brownie is naturally considered better. Considering these findings, the researchers concluded that raisin paste was shown to be a viable alternative to animal fats in this brownie.   Other findings from the study showed that the raisin flavor was not noticeable until at least 75% of the fat content was from the raisin paste; at 75% and 100% raisin paste, the fruity notes from the raisins were found to be complementary of the chocolate. Moreover, on a nutritional level, a decrease in overall calories, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol was observed as more and more of the fat was derived from the raisin paste. At 100% usage of the raisin paste, the level of cholesterol was zero. More Information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/functional-benefits-of-raisins-in-sweet-baked-goods-as-substitute-to-animal-fatBrief COVID-19 Update: July 14, 2021Europe recorded a strong increase in incidence (20%) whereas America is the only region where new cases have declined. The largest increase in new deaths was observed in Africa. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds 187 million and the number of deaths has surpassed 4 million.   The Delta variant continues its expansion, being found in a total of 111 countries (15 new countries). Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Head of the WHO, alerted “Variants are currently winning the race against vaccines because of inequitable vaccine production and distribution, which also threatens the global economic recovery.” Although the number of doses administered is increasing every day, reaching almost 3.5 billion, the disparity between countries is notable –the highest-income countries are getting vaccinated more than 30 times faster.   Sinopharm and Sinovac, China’s two major COVID-19 vaccine makers, have signed agreements to provide up to 550 million vaccines to the COVAX program. The deals include up to 170 million doses of the Sinopharm shot and up to 380 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, through to the middle of 2022.   The debate about the administration of a third dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is on the table. Pfizer and partner BioNTech are seeking the US and European authorization, based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.   Finally, as a consequence of the rising of new COVID-19 infections, the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not have spectators due to the state of emergency announced by the government. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-july-14-2021Dried Grapes 2021/2022 Early Forecast As discussed during the latest INC Online Conference, held during May 25-27, total dried grape (raisins, Sultanas and currants) supply in 2021/2022 is forecasted to remain fairly stable (3% up from 2020/21), as planted areas are not expanding in the top production origins. The beginning stock in 2020 was around 203,400 metric tons and it is estimated to be roughly the same in 2021 (203,000 MT). Carry out for the 2021/22 season, preliminary forecasted 7% below compared to 2021/22, at 189,500 MT, is optimistic from a sales standpoint. There is not a big shift in supply expected for any of the major suppliers.   On the demand side, although 2020 did see a big raise in retail consumption, it was traded off by the drop in HORECA sales. Due to normalizing and opening up after the pandemic, a slight increase in demand is projected for the incoming months. Turkey  The production size for the world&#39;s top dried grape producer, Turkey, is expected to reach 300,000 MT, similar to the prior season. Weather conditions were favorable, apart from some local incidence of frosts, which did not impact the crop size to a significant extent. Provided there are no major disruptions until harvesting time, production should amount to similar volumes to last year, considering acreage is fairly stable in Turkey.   According to the Turkish Statistical Institute data, international shipments from January to April were reduced from 77,388 MT in 2020 to 63,240 in 2021, about 18%. This could be partly due to the COVID-19 aftermath as well as the shipping disruptions. However, most of the 60,000 MT of carry-over is mainly composed of the fruit bought by TMO. USA The weather has been pretty stable and the acreage also seems to be stabilizing, after overcoming a period of some vines coming out of the ground. Production for the 2021/2022 season is preliminarily forecasted at 209,000 MT, up by 6.6% from the previous season.   As per the USDA Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database, international shipments out of California year to date (January-April, 2021) were slightly reduced by 8% to 26,083 MT from the 28,398 MT exported during the same period in 2020. However, exports to Taiwan (1,593 MT), the Philippines (1,508 MT) and South Korea (1,158 MT), were significantly increased by 71%, 53%, and 51%, respectively from the last year. China Production in China is very stable year on year and 2021/2022 is expected to be a normal crop, forecasted 10% up from 2020/21, at 110,000 MT. The biggest export market for China raisins remains Europe and South East Asia. South Africa  As reported by Raisins South Africa, the 2020/2021 supply is estimated at 10,000 MT of opening stock, 71,000 MT of farmer stock production, from which, 64,000 MT are marketable product.   Due to the smaller-than-average crop in 2020, the total stock inventory is expected to be almost fully sold out, so, opening stock for the 2021/22 season is currently estimated at 3,000 MT. The early production guestimates for this season place the farmer stock production at around 86,000 MT, with 78,000 MT of marketable product, as production is expected to come back to normal volumes. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/dried-grapes-2021-2022-early-forecastBrief COVID-19 Update: July 7, 2021The rate in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) continued to decrease for 12 weeks in a row, yet Spain observed an increase in test positivity compared with the previous week, and Cyprus and Portugal reported an increment in notification rates.   The Delta variant is capturing much of the attention. Cases of the Delta variant have been reported in 98 countries and “is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage”, warned Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Head of the World Health Organization (WHO). Fortunately, vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc have shown high effectiveness after two doses at preventing hospitalization of those infected with the Delta variant. The Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot vaccine has also shown strong neutralizing antibody activity against the Delta variant.   According to Bloomberg, the 3.22 million doses administered to date should be enough to fully vaccinate 21% of the global population, but inequitable vaccination is a reality. In the EU/EEA, the median cumulative uptake of at least one vaccine dose among adults aged 18 years and above is 62% and 39% for full vaccination. In the US, 54.6% of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.   Travel restrictions are constantly being updated to prevent COVID-19 new cases and variants. On July 1, the European Council added 10 countries and one entity/territorial authority to the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Jordan, Montenegro, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia and Kosovo. The UK also updated the red, amber and green list rules for entering England on June 30. Among others, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda moved from amber to the red list. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-july-7-2021Cashew Crop 2021/2022 Forecast The total crop for the 2020/2021 season is estimated at 3.8 million metric tons, and the 2021/22 crop, is expected to be very similar to the previous season. The difference is about a 2% reduction in the crop size, primarily on account of the lower estimated crops in West Africa (down 6% from 2020/21) and in Vietnam (down 11%), which are being compensated, to some extent, with a good crop in Cambodia (up 32%). The main decreases in West Africa are forecasted for Côte d’Ivoire (7%), mainly due to drought, Nigeria (8%), Ghana (9%), and Benin (13%). No changes are anticipated for the rest of the origins.   The main challenges that the industry was facing, at the time of writing this report, were related to the logistic issues affecting the whole goods transportation industry. In Africa, containers and vessels availability were hampering the raw material flow towards the Asian processors, while kernels shipments from Asia to Europe were also slowed down since October last year. At this time, shipping rates started to raise and kept following that trend towards the first semester of 2021. The availability of kernels almost stopped in Europe and was very limited in the US.   In spite of the disruption in the movement of raw material into India and Vietnam, due to the domestic crop&#39;s harvest, there was not yet a shortage of raw cashew at the processing facilities. However, once the nuts got processed, the availability of empty containers was low, getting a booking extremely difficult, the freight rate was excessive and the transit times had expanded. Even upon arrival, there were difficulties to transport the containers to warehouses as trucking rates, in the US and Europe, had gone through the roof.   On the demand side, during the first quarter of 2021, imports into Europe and the US were increased between 3 to 7%, as the demand for cashews was still going up. Due to the lesser kernel availability from Asia, prices are likely to at least stabilize, or even go up. The price trend seems to show the beginning of a price recovery in 2021 after a stiff decline in 2019 and 2020. In India, demand, which has been heavily affected by COVID-19 last year, is anticipated to improve in the second half of this year. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/cashew-crop-2021-2022-forecastPesticides Update: June 30, 2021Australia: MRLS Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued a proposal to amend Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (June 1, 2021). Among other changes, the table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The maximum residue limit (MRL) for isopyrazam in almonds at 0.01* ppm is inserted. * indicates that the maximum residue limit is set at the limit of determination.   The deadline for comments was June 29, 2021. The proposal can be found here. EU: MRLs Update On June 18, the European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/976 of 4 June 2021 amending Annexes II, III and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for cycloxydim, mepiquat, Metschnikowia fructicola strain NRRL Y-27328 and prohexadione in or on certain products.   This regulation sets the following MRLs, among others: The MRL for prohexadione in tree nuts, apricots, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.01* ppm; in plums at 0.05 ppm; and in peanuts at 0.9 ppm. The MRL for cycloxydim in tree nuts, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.05* ppm; in apricots and peanuts at 0.2 ppm; in plums at 0.09 ppm; and in grapes at 0.5 ppm. The MRL for mepiquat in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.05* ppm; and in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.02* ppm. It will enter into force on July 8, 2021, but the MRLs for mepiquat shall apply from July 1, 2021.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/976 of 4 June 2021   The Regulation (EU) No 2021/618 of 15 April 2021 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for diclofop, fluopyram, ipconazole and terbuthylazine in or on certain products has entered into force.   This regulation sets, i.a., the following MRLs: The MRL for diclofop in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for fluopyram in tree nuts is set at 0.03 ppm, in prunes at 0.6 ppm, in grapes at 2 ppm, in cranberries at 4 ppm, and in peanuts at 0.02 ppm. The MRL for terbuthylazine in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. * Indicates lower limit of determination.   It shall apply from November 6, 2021.   Regulation (EU) No 2021/618 of 15 April 2021 EU: Phosmet Withdrawal The European Commission notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the non-renewal of the approval of the active substance phosmet, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   The Draft provides that the approval of the active substance phosmet is not renewed and, therefore, existing authorized plant protection products containing this substance will be withdrawn from the market. This decision does not affect the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for residues of the concerned pesticide. However, following non-approval, separate actions may be taken on MRLs. No comments are applicable and the adoption is expected in the second quarter of 2021.   Currently, the MRLs for phosmet in tree nuts (except almonds, pistachios and walnuts at 2 ppm and hazelnuts at 0.1 ppm), apricots, grapes and dates is 0.05* ppm; in plums is 0.6 ppm; in cranberries is 10 ppm; and in figs is 2 ppm.   * Indicates lower limit of determination.   The WTO notification can be found here. USA: Applications for New Uses for Pesticides The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received an application to register the active ingredient Novaluron as insecticide for Tree nuts, nutmeat (Crop Group 14-12) and Almond, hulls. Federal Register Vol. 86, No. 118. Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Pages 32920-32921 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-june-30-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: June 30, 2021EU-Australia: Free Trade Agreement Negotiations On June 1-11, 2021, the 11th round of negotiations for a trade agreement between the European Union and Australia took place. Negotiators discussed the proposals of the different negotiating areas, such as trade in goods, rules of origin, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and geographical indications, among others.   Report of the 11th round of negotiations for a trade agreement between the European Union and Australia here.  UK: CPTPP Trade Agreement On June 2, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) nations agreed to the UK’s accession process to join the CPTPP. In addition, on June 15, the UK reached an agreement with Australia and negotiations are ongoing with New Zealand.   The CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam). On February 1, 2021, the UK Government formally applied to join the CPTPP.   See more information here. US-Japan: Trade Agreement, Third Year of Implementation On April 1, 2021, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), ratified in 2019, entered “Year 3” of ratification. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN report, the following tariffs are applying for several US dried fruits exported to Japan from Year 3 (2021) to Year 5 (2023).   Product Name Japan Customs HS Code Base Rate Year 3 (2021) Year 4 (2022) Year 5 (2023) Prunes 081320000 2.4% Free Free Free Dried figs 080420090 6.0% 2.0% 1.0% Free Mixtures of nuts or dried fruits 081350090 12.0% Free Free Free   Link to the USDA GAIN report can be found here. USA: Senators Ask Administration’s Assistance on EU Peanut Trade Barriers In a letter sent to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, nineteen U.S. Senators have requested assistance from the Administration on EU non-tariff trade barriers affecting the peanut industry –aflatoxin testing requirements in particular.   “In recent years, the U.S. industry estimates they have lost approximately $170 million in sales into the E.U. due to difficulties presented by these burdensome testing requirements,” the letter says.   Senators urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to joint efforts to engage with their EU counterparts to reduce existing non-tariff barriers on peanut exports.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-june-30-2021Food Safety Update: June 30, 2021Australia: Import Certificate Requirements Due to COVID-19 The Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is extending the interim changes to import certification requirements for fresh produce, cut flowers, plants and other imported plant-based commodities until June 30, 2022.   This measure is an alternative to the use of original paper phytosanitary certificates and health certificates due to the impacts of COVID-19 on airfreight and courier mail.   Link to the notice here. China: Decrees 248 and 249, Facilities Registration and Food Safety Measures The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published an update on China’s regulations for the Registration and Administration of Overseas Producers of Imported Food (Degree 248) and the Administrative Measures on Import and Export Food Safety (Degree 249). Decree 248 will require that all overseas food manufacturers, processors, and storage facilities be registered with the Chinese authorities to export product to China. Decree 249 covers requirements on food exports to China, including overseas facilities registration, record filing by importers and exporters, quarantine and inspection, and product labeling among others. The report provides clarifications from the General Administration of Customs of China on issues such as product scope and transition period. Both decrees will enter into force on January 1, 2022.   More information EU: Control Systems Due to COVID-19 The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU 2021/984 of 17 June 2021 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 as regards the period of application of temporary measures due to COVID-19.   This regulation extends the period of application of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 until September 1, 2021, with the aim of addressing the disruptions in the functioning of the control systems, in particular due to difficulties to perform official controls and other official activities.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/984 of 17 June 2021 WHO: Foodborne Disease Burden On June 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a handbook for countries to measure their foodborne disease burden. It gives a complete picture of the requirements, enabling factors, challenges and opportunities involved, and the steps in the process. The handbook is particularly intended for use at national level. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-june-30-2021COVID-19 Update: June 30, 2021Although the data reported showing fewer new coronavirus infections, the pandemic is far from over. The Delta variant is presenting a new COVID-19 pandemic challenge. Originally found in India, the Delta variant, more transmissible than the alpha variant, is now present in more than 80 countries. In the US, it represents 20% of infections, and health officials say it could become the country’s dominant type. In Europe, the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned that the Delta variant could account for 90% of new coronavirus infections by the end of August. The UK is seeing COVID-19 cases rise despite vaccinations, since more than 90% of new cases are from this variant. Germany is also wary about another wave spurred by the Delta variant, which now makes up about 15% of new cases. WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his concern on Twitter: “There&#39;s a lot of concern about the #COVID19 Delta variant –the most transmissible one identified so far.”   The pace of the vaccination effort is increasing, being the latest rate roughly 45.6 million doses per day. According to Bloomberg, more than 2.97 billion doses have been administered so far worldwide.   The WHO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) underscored their commitment to universal, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other health technologies. It has been agreed, within the existing WHO-WIPO-WTO Trilateral Cooperation framework, that the three agencies will promote two specific initiatives: (1) the organization of practical, capacity-building workshops to enhance the flow of updated information on current developments in the pandemic and responses; and (2) the implementation of a joint platform for tripartite technical assistance to countries relating to their needs for COVID-19 medical technologies, providing a one-stop-shop that will make available the full range of expertise on access, IP and trade matters, in a coordinated and systematic manner.  UN The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the 2021 World Drug Report on June 24, according to which the social impact of the pandemic could push more people into drug use. Moreover, while the impact of COVID-19 on drug issues is not fully known, the analysis implies that the pandemic has resulted in increased economic hardship, making illicit drug cultivation more tempting to vulnerable rural communities. WHO The WHO and its COVAX partners are collaborating with Biovac, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a network of universities, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish their first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub. The goal of this initiative is to increase vaccine access throughout Africa. “COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of local production to address health emergencies, strengthen regional health security and expand sustainable access to health products,” noted Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. Australia Seven cities in Australia are in lockdown after a jump in cases: Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast Perth, Darwin, Townsville and Alice Springs. This is Sydney&#39;s first lockdown since December. COVID-19 transmission rates had been continuously low throughout the country, but the Delta variant has managed to reach five of its eight states and territories. Central and eastern Sydney went into lockdown on Sunday. The two-week lockdown will affect the city center and inner-city suburbs, as well as beachside suburbs in the east. Residents of these areas will have to stay at home except for essential reasons. China Shipments from Yantian, which is the third-largest container port in the world, are suffering delays after the terminal was closed for a week as a coronavirus outbreak in late May. “Around 50 container ships remain backed up around the Yantian port in Southern China” and “some 350,000 loaded containers are stacked up on docks,” the Wall Street Journal reported. Western retailers such as Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., who have been scrambling to restock after a year of supply-chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, are driving demand for boxships. EU To support Europe’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences, on June 15, the European Commission (EC) raised €20 billion in its first NextGenerationEU transaction. To date, the EC has adopted a positive assessment of the recovery and resilience plan (grants) for the following countries: Spain (€69.5 billion), Italy (€68.9 billion), France (€39.4 billion), Greece (€30.5 billion), Germany (€25.6 billion), Portugal (€16.6 billion), Slovakia (€6.3 billion), Belgium (€5.9 billion), Austria (€3.5 billion), Latvia (€1.8 billion), Denmark (€1.5 billion) and Luxembourg (€93 million).   On June 18, the Court of First Instance of Brussels decided to grant interim measures in the case brought against AstraZeneca by the European Commission and the EU-27 Member States. AstraZeneca should deliver 50 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, 2021, and in the event of non-compliance with the schedule, it will have to pay a penalty of €10 per dose no delivered.   That same day, the European Council approved the conclusions on Intellectual Property (IP) in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The conclusions address the role of IP in helping to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and outline the importance of IP for SMEs and their economic recovery, as well as for green and digital transitions. The Council welcomes the action plan and initiatives announced on better protection of IP, on promoting an effective use and deployment of IP, on easier access to and sharing of IP-protected assets, and on fighting IP rights infringements.   During the European Council Meeting held on June 24-25, EU leaders acknowledged the importance of the agreements reached on the EU digital COVID certificate and the revision of the two Council recommendations on travel: within the EU and into the EU. In addition, the Council reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to helping boost global production of and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines. Germany Since June 29, only German citizens and residents are allowed to travel into Germany from Portugal and Russia, classified as ‘variant countries’ due to the increment of Delta variant cases. Those allowed to enter from Russia and Portugal will be subject to a two-week quarantine, regardless of whether they can provide a negative COVID-19 test.   The German Government announced it expects a surplus of shots in the next few weeks. Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the country needs to fast-forward its vaccination rollout as the Delta variant spreads throughout Europe, reported Reuters. Italy All Italian regions are now in the low-restriction ‘white area’ and mask-free outdoors, except for gatherings.   By ordinance of June 18, Italy allows the use of the COVID-19 Green Certificate for entry into Italy from countries of the EU, as well as Japan, Canada and the USA. For those coming from the UK and Northern Ireland, Italy introduced a 5-day quarantine with mandatory swab testing. The new ordinance extended until July 30 the measures in force for people coming from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, or who have been in these countries in the preceding fourteen days.   To control the Delta variant, Italy decided to enforce stricter controls and tracking procedures on those traveling from abroad. Among different measures that will be implemented, a higher number of daily swabs and increased tracking of single cases will be included. Spain Spain is tightening access requirements for travelers from the UK amid the growing concern over the Delta variant. From July 2, UK travelers will have to show a negative PCR test or proof of being fully vaccinated. The conditions will particularly affect travelers to the Balearic Islands, which are going on the UK’s green travel list on June 30. India On June 29, India recorded the lowest single-day spike since March 17 with 37,566 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours.   Moderna&#39;s vaccine has been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India –becoming the fourth COVID-19 jab to get approval in India. In addition, Moderna has agreed to donate a certain number of doses through COVAX to the Government of India.   A second wave of stimulus was announced on June 28, including a credit guarantee scheme of Rs 50,000 crore to ramp up the health sector. Japan Being Tokyo and other six prefectures under the quasi-emergency status, the Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura affirmed on June 27 that another state of emergency could be declared due to the resurgence in infections.   Japan is administering 1 million doses a day and is prioritizing the full vaccination of elderly people by the end of July. The Olympics will start in less than a month and only a small portion of the country (10.3%) is fully vaccinated.   Vaccine certificates, which will include information such as the date of vaccination and its manufacturer, will be issued in July. Japan will ask other countries to ease entry requirements for holders of its COVID-19 vaccination certificate. Turkey Due to new variants of the coronavirus, Turkey has halted flights and all direct travel from Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Those who arrive from other origins but have been in the countries listed within the last 14 days will need to show a negative PCR and will need to quarantine for 14 days. UK In the UK, over 60% of adults have been vaccinated with a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Besides, more than 82.5% of people have been vaccinated with a single dose. A recent analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalization from the Delta variant.   A new study suggests that over 2 million people in the UK would have had one or more COVID-19 symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks.  USA According to The Associated Press, nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the US are now among people who have not been vaccinated. In May, infections in fully vaccinated people were about 0.1% and only about 0.8% of COVID-19 deaths were in fully vaccinated people, showing the effectiveness of the vaccination strategy.   President Joe Biden has set a goal to have 70% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-june-30-2021Sustainability Update: June 30, 2021EU: Organic Imports The European Commission notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of a draft Commission Delegated Regulation on official controls on consignments of organic products and in-conversion products intended for import into the EU, and on the certificate of inspection.   This draft regulation sets out the rules for the certificate of inspection and the official controls to be carried out by Member States. In addition, the draft establishes the information that must be provided in the event that consignments are found to be non-compliant. The notification can be found here.   In addition, the European Commission also notified the WTO of a draft Commission Implementing Regulation laying down rules on documents and notifications required for organic and in-conversion products intended for import into the EU.   This draft sets the rules for specific operators in respect to the entry and the release for free circulation into the EU of organic products originating in third countries. This act complements the draft mentioned above. The notification can be found here.   The final date for comments is August 15. The proposed date of adoption is September 2021 and the provisions will apply from January 1, 2022. EU: Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste On June 22, the European Commission launched a public call for applications for private sector organizations with expertise and proven track record in food waste prevention to join the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste for its second mandate (2022-2026).   The Platform will contribute to key deliverables foreseen by the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, such as the future Commission proposals to establish legally binding targets to reduce food waste across the EU and the revision of EU date marking rules.   The deadline for sending applications is July 23, 2021.   See the news here. EU: Open Dialogue on Sustainability Food Systems The European Commission is organizing an online dialogue with Europeans on July 12-13, 2021, to prepare inputs for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit, which will take place in September 2021.   The topics for the discussion will be the following: Green claims and sustainable food labeling Sustainable production Sustainable and healthy diet Prevention and reduction of food waste Antimicrobial resistance See the news here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-june-30-2021EU-US Suspension of Tariffs Over Aircraft DisputeFollowing the European Union - United States Summit held on June 15, the EU and the US agreed to suspend the application of tariffs for a period of five years, being the most significant step towards resolving the longest trade dispute in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The disputes on Large Civil Aircraft (LCA; also known as the Airbus-Boeing Dispute) started in 2004.   The EU list of US origin products that had been considered for additional import duties included: fresh or dried hazelnuts or filberts "corylus spp.", shelled (CN: 08022200) fresh or dried pistachios, shelled (CN: 08025200) nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled (excl. coconuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts "castania spp.", pistachios, pecans, areca "betel" nuts, cola nuts, pine nuts and macadamia nuts) (CN: 08029085) fresh or dried dates (CN: 08041000) sultanas (CN: 08062030) dried grapes (excl. currants and sultanas) (CN: 08062090) dried prunes (CN: 08132000) groundnuts, in shell (excl. seed for sowing, roasted or otherwise cooked) (CN: 12024100) groundnuts, shelled, whether or not broken (excl. seed for sowing, roasted or otherwise cooked) (CN: 12024200)   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-us-suspension-of-tariffs-over-aircraft-disputeBrief COVID-19 Update: June 23, 2021Latest WHO’s figures confirm the downward trend of new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Declines in the number of new weekly cases (June 15) were reported across all regions except for Africa. The highest numbers of new cases were reported in India, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and the United States of America. The number of new deaths decreased across all the regions except for Africa and South-East Asia.   The global vaccination campaign is underway with a rate of roughly 39.7 million doses a day. More than 2,412 million vaccine doses have been administered and it is estimated that 17.1% of the global population is fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg, but inequitable vaccination is still a threat.   WHO’s global targets are to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, at least 40% by the end of 2021, and 70% by the middle of next year. “The global failure to share vaccines equitably is fueling a two-track pandemic that is now taking its toll on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people” claimed Dr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director General during a media briefing on June 18. In addition, he thanked the vaccine donations announced by the G7 and countries, and urged others to follow suit. “Vaccines donated next year will be far too late for those who are dying today, or being infected today, or at risk today” he added.   In the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 52% of the total population have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 42.6% have been fully vaccinated (June 10).   In Europe, the list of countries for which travel restrictions should be lifted has been updated. Member States should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Albania, Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Republic of North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United States of America and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity). https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-june-22-2021COVID-19 Update: June 16, 2021Data as of June 6 shows that global case and death incidences continued to decrease, a 15% and an 8% decrease respectively, compared to the previous week. Marked declines in the number of new cases were observed in the European and South-East Asia Regions, whereas the African Region experienced an increase. The number of new deaths reported increased in the Western Pacific Region.   There is a general consensus that vaccination is the long-term solution to the COVID-19 crisis, therefore increasing the speed of the production of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a global priority. However, swift action has not followed to aid equal access across all countries and regions. “Inequitable vaccination is a threat to all nations, not just those with the fewest vaccines”, warned Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).   More than 2.3 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed globally, enough to fully vaccinate 15.4% of the global population —but the distribution has been lopsided. WHO is calling for a global push to reach the objective of at least 30% of the world’s population be vaccinated by December. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, acknowledged that vaccines should be considered “global public goods” because there is no other way of defeating a virus that spreads across developing countries “like wildfire” and risks mutating. Shots need to be “available and affordable to all”, he added.   During the last days and previous to the G7 Summit (June 11-13), the world’s predominant global financing, health and trade agencies had urged government leaders to accelerate the equitable distribution of health tools to help end the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a statement that governments must act without further delay or risk continued waves and explosive outbreaks of COVID-19 undermining the global recovery.     At the G7 summit, leaders promised to supply one billion COVID vaccine doses for low-income countries either directly or through the World Health Organization&#39;s Covax global vaccine sharing program. UN On June 9, United Nations (UN) experts called for G7 leaders to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for people in low-income countries. They stressed that it is time for “international solidarity and cooperation” to assist all governments in vaccinating people and saving lives. UN experts also urged pharmaceutical companies to join WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) for sharing know-how, data and intellectual property.   According to a new UN report on child labor issued on June 8, “for the first time in two decades, the number of children being put to work has risen –to 160 million worldwide, representing an increase of 8.4 million over four years– while millions of other are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic”. The report also warns that nine million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labor by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. UNICEF On June 8, UNICEF Ambassadors and supporters signed an open letter addressed to the G7 leaders highlighting the urgency of supplying vaccine donations. “Covax is 190 million doses short of where it needs to be, which leaves vulnerable people dangerously unprotected”, the letter states. WHO The Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use was validated by the WHO on June 1. The agency recommends the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of two to four weeks. Results showed that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51% and prevented severe COVID-19 and hospitalization in 100% of the studied population. WHO has already listed Pfizer/BioNTech, Astrazeneca-SK Bio, Serum Institute of India, Astra Zeneca EU, Janssen, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines for emergency use.  WTO On June 7, the WTO received a petition signed by over 2.7 million people from around the world calling for universal access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines. The petition brings together the work of more than 40 organizations worldwide. Australia Melbourne&#39;s strict lockdown was lifted on June 10 after two weeks of strict lockdown that forced people to remain home except for essential business. Australian’s borders are closed and the only people who can travel to Australia are: Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, and travelers who have been in New Zealand for at least 14 days before the date of departure. All people traveling to Australia must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) result at the time of check-in (tested 72 hours or less prior to the departure). In addition, travelers may need to go into government approved mandatory quarantine for 14 days from arrival. Exceptions include travelers who are either traveling from a green zone (New Zealand) or in an exemption category (some industry workers such as airline, medevac and air ambulance crew). Brazil Brazil has surpassed the 17 million confirmed cases, however, the trend is downward. Similarly, deaths recorded are steadily decreasing since the March peak. Nearly 65.9 million vaccine doses had been administered by June 4.   According to The Wall Street Journal, Brazil’s economy has recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The economy grew 1.2% from the fourth quarter, boosted by agricultural exports. In addition, Brazil’s government spent the equivalent of 8.3% of its annual economic output last year on stimulus, being one of the world’s biggest stimulus packages. Chile On June 3, Chilean health authorities decided to stop the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine of people under 45 years old, as a preventive measure, due to a case of thrombosis detected.   Chile announced a lockdown in the capital Santiago from June 12 due to a COVID surge, despite nearly 60% of the country being fully vaccinated. EU On June 4, the EU submitted a proposal seeking a strong multilateral trade response to the COVID-19 pandemic to expand the production of vaccines and treatments, and ensure universal and fair access. The proposal is intended to ensure that vaccines and treatments can cross borders freely, to encourage producers to expand their production and to facilitate the use of compulsory licensing within the WTO&#39;s existing Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).   Until the EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application (July 1), Member States are applying different policies as regards traveling restrictions. Although they agreed on recommendations to allow fully vaccinated tourists from abroad back into the EU, the situation may vary from country to country.   The Regulation on the EU Digital COVID Certificate, signed on June 14, is expected to facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU during the pandemic. It will apply for 12 months as of 1 July 2021. The Certificate, accessible for everyone, will cover COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery; it will be free of charge; available in digital and paper-based format; and it will include a digitally signed QR code. The leaders of the EU and the US held a summit on June 15. One of the main pillars of the discussion was the ending of the COVID-19 pandemic and driving forward a sustainable global economic recovery. They committed to continuing to support the Covax Facility and encourage more donors to make 2 billion vaccine doses available worldwide by late 2021 –the goal is to vaccinate at least two-thirds of the world’s population by the end of 2022. In addition, it was established a Joint EU–US COVID Manufacturing and Supply Chain Taskforce in order to deepen cooperation and identify and resolve issues around expanding vaccine and therapeutics production capacity. To ensure global mobility, they agreed to establish a joint EU-US Experts’ Working Group to exchange information and expertise to reinitiate travel between the EU and the United States.   India India is under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the country has recorded over 29.4 million confirmed cases and more than 370,300 deaths. The country will receive a share of 80 million COVID-19 vaccines from the USA through the Covax global vaccine sharing program. Nearly 238.8 million vaccine doses had been administered by June 8.   The Indian Government published a guideline regarding food and lifestyle habits that can be helpful in boosting the immunity of COVID patients. The general measures suggest including foods like fruits, vegetables, dark cholate (at least 70% cocoa), turmeric milk, whole grains, good sources of proteins (chicken, fish, eggs, soy, nuts, seeds) and healthy fats (walnuts, almonds, olive oil, and mustard oil), as well as regular physical activity and breathing exercise. Japan On June 8, the Japanese Prime Minister said that vaccinations for all residents will be completed by November.   In the meantime, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are still on and organizers insist the event can be held safely thanks to the protocols in place.  Turkey On June 1, Turkey eased coronavirus measures, including a partial lifting of weekend curfews and the reopening of food venues to a limited number of customers (from 7 am to 9 pm). A curfew is imposed from 10 pm to 5 am on weekdays and Saturdays, but a full lockdown is still in force on Sundays.   On June 13, Turkey reported 5,012 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, totaling 5.33 million confirmed cases. Vaccination efforts are being intensified (33.3 million doses administered) and the vaccine eligibility age has been lowered to 40. United Kingdom Public Health England (PHE) released the latest weekly COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report on June 10. It is estimated that 42,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths have been prevented thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine.   The latest national influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report (June 10) shows that, according to surveillance indicators, COVID-19 activity increased and case rates increased in most age groups, but most notably in younger age groups.   UK infections continued to rise because of the Delta variant. PHE data indicates that over 90% of new COVID-19 cases are now the Delta variant, which continues to show a significantly higher rate of growth compared to the Alpha variant. United States The United States intends to buy 500 million doses of Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus vaccine to share internationally. It will distribute about 200 million doses through Covax, and about 300 million doses in the first half of next year.   A recent paper published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Has Global Agricultural Trade been Resilient under COVID-19? Findings from an Econometric Assessment, estimates the effects of COVID-19 incidence rates, policy restrictions, and the reduction in human mobility/lockdown effect on global agriculture trade. The study did not find any significant impact in neither tree nut nor peanut trade. The entry into the United States is suspended for noncitizens who have been physically present within the following countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the US: China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India. However, citizens and lawful permanent residents of the US, certain family members, and other individuals who meet specified exceptions, who have been in one of the countries listed above in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter.   All air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country are required to get tested no more than three days before departure with a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 before boarding the flight.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-june-16-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: June 9, 2021By regions, Europe and South-East Asia reported the largest decline, whereas the African and Western Pacific Regions reported increases. In the Americas and Mediterranean Regions, the cases reported were similar to those reported in the previous week.     The vaccination campaign increased the rate, being the latest around 38 million doses per day. It is estimated that around 14.1% of the global population is fully vaccinated, however, the differences between high and low-income countries remain –highest incomes countries are vaccinating more than 30 times faster than those with the lowest. Therefore, to reduce the “equity gap”, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group (WBG), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a joint statement urging government leaders to finance a new $50 billion roadmap. They warned that access to vaccination is key to end the health crisis. On June 2, President Joe Biden announced that the US will donate 75% of its unused coronavirus vaccines to the COVAX alliance.   Latest data of the WTO’s Goods Barometer (May 28) showed that global merchandise trade is continuing to recover in 2021 following a steep but brief pandemic-induced drop in the second quarter of last year.   The European Commission proposed that Member States gradually ease travel measures, including most importantly for the holders of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (previously called the Digital Green Certificate) which will enter into application on July 1. The key updates proposed are built on the colour-coded map published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In addition, on June 1, the NextGenerationEU recovery plan started after the approval of the own resources decision from all 27 Member States. Pre-financing of 13% of the total amount allocated to each Member State will be made available to national governments after the approval of their recovery and resilience plans. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-june-9-2021INC Releases 2021/2022 Preliminary Production ForecastsTree nut production in 2021/2022 is forecasted to reach similar levels to the previous season: global production is estimated at 5.2 million metric tons (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts in kernel basis; pistachios in-shell basis), with expected annual increments between 16% and 3% in pine nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts and almonds, mainly backed by increased planted areas and/or yields. Climate change, mostly droughts and frosts, might impact some crop outcomes.   Similarly, forecasted at 47.8 million MT (in-shell basis), global peanut production is also anticipated to remain within the previous season range. The outlook on overall volumes and quality is optimistic. Driven by the healthy and plant-based diet trends, snacking and new product consumption has been on the rise in Europe as well as in Argentina, although the export market, remains this origin&#39;s main focus. Chinese domestic market, traditionally dominated by oil consumption, is also seeing some growth in snacking and ingredients.   Mainly due to a 34% and 11% expected increment in global prune and table date production respectively, total dried fruit production (table dates, dried apricots, sweetened dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes, raisins, Sultanas and currants) for 2021/22 is forecasted at 3.1 million metric tons, up by 7% compared to 2020/21. Cary-over stocks are expected to be reduced by 7% from 2021/22 and overall supply and demand in balance. Retail sales were increased during 2020 as a result of lockdowns.   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-releases-2021-2022-preliminary-production-forecastsSustainability Update: June, 2021 EU, Circular Economy: Guidance for Single-Use Plastic rules On May 31, the European Commission provided guidance on the EU rules on single-use plastics in order to reduce marine plastic litter and promote the transition to a circular economy.   The Commission Guidelines on single-use plastic products help with the interpretation and implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/904 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The Guidelines provide key definitions of the Directive and examples of products to be considered as falling within or outside its scope. Nuts are used as an example of “Foodstuffs generally suitable for immediate consumption”.   According to the Directive 2019/904, by July 3, 2021, Member States have to ensure that certain single-use plastic products (such as cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, and straws, among others) are no longer placed on the EU market. For other plastic products (such as single-use plastic bags, bottles, beverage and food containers for immediate consumption, and packets and wrappers, among others) different measures apply. These include limiting their use, reducing their consumption and preventing littering through labeling requirements, extended producer responsibility schemes (“polluter pays principle”), awareness campaigns and product design requirements. EU, Green Deal: New Chemicals Strategy Towards a Toxic-Free Environment On May 12, the European Commission adopted the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, which paves the way towards a zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment announced in the European Green Deal. The Strategy aims to significantly increase the protection of human health and the environment from harmful chemicals, paying particular attention to vulnerable population groups.   Flagship initiatives include: Phasing out from consumer products the most harmful substances, such as endocrine disruptors, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), unless their use is proven essential for society. Minimizing and substituting as far as possible the presence of substances of concern in all products. Addressing the combination effect of chemicals (cocktail effect) by taking better account of the risk that is posed to human health and the environment by daily exposure to a wide mix of chemicals from different sources. Ensuring that producers and consumers have access to information on chemical content and safe use, by introducing information requirements in the context of the Sustainable Product Policy Initiative. EU, Farm to Fork Strategy: Meeting Pesticide Targets The European Commission has published the first update showing progress towards meeting the two pesticide targets under the Farm to Fork strategy: 50% reduction in the use and risk of chemical pesticides and a 50% reduction in the use of more hazardous pesticides.   There was an 8% reduction in the use and risk of chemical pesticides in the EU in 2018, and a further 5% reduction in 2019, compared to the 2015-2017 baseline period. The results indicate that the use and risk of chemical pesticides in the Member States continue to decline. In addition, there was a 12% reduction in the use of more hazardous pesticides (mainly candidates for substitution) in 2019 compared to the 2015-2017 baseline period.   Link to the report here. EU: Certificates for Organic Products The European Commission notified the WTO of the Draft Commission Implementing Regulation laying down certain rules concerning the certificate issued to operators, groups of operators and exporters in third countries involved in the imports of organic products into the EU.   The Draft sets the model of the certificate and the provisions for its issuance. In addition, a list of control authorities and control bodies that are recognized under Article 46 (1) of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 in order to carry out controls and to issue organic certificates in third countries is established.   The WTO notification can be found here. US: USDA Releases 90-Day Progress Report on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry On May 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the 90-Day Progress Report on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry. The report contains recommendations for a climate-smart agriculture and forestry (CSAF) strategy, considering topics such as practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change, source sustainable bio-products and fuels, and result in conservation actions that provide measurable carbon reductions and sequestration.   Link to the Report can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-june-2021Pesticides Update: June 2021EU: Pesticide Update, Terbuthylazine The EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/824 amending Implementing Regulations (EU) No 540/2011 (list of approved active substances) and (EU) No 820/2011 regarding the conditions of approval of the active substance terbuthylazine, has been published in the Official Journal of the European Commission.   According to this regulation, the use of terbuthylazine will be restricted to every third year on the same field at a maximum rate of 850 g/ha. Member States shall withdraw or amend authorizations for plant protection products containing terbuthylazine as an active substance by December 14, 2021. A grace period will apply until June 14, 2022.   Link to the Regulation can be found here. EU: Pesticides, Extension of Approval Periods, Cyazofamid On May 27, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation 2021/843 of 26 May 2021 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the extension of the approval periods of the active substance cyazofamid. The approval period of this active substance is extended until July 31, 2036.   This regulation entered into force on June 16, 2021, and shall apply from August 1, 2021. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-june2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: June 2021China: Suspension of China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue On May 6, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced it will indefinitely suspend all activities under the framework of the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue jointly held by the NDRC and the Australian Commonwealth Government. EU-India: Free Trade Negotiations Following EU-India leaders&#39; meeting held on May 8, representatives of the two delegations released a joint statement announcing a resume of free trade negotiations between the EU countries and India. Specifically, the leaders agreed to: resume negotiations on a balanced, ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial free trade agreement find quick solutions to long-standing market access issues launch negotiations on a stand-alone investment protection agreement start negotiations on an agreement on geographical indicators Moreover, a new connectivity partnership was established, aimed at supporting sustainable digital, transport and energy networks, and the flow of people, goods, services, data and capital and centered on the principles of equity and inclusivity EU-US: EU Suspends Additional Duties on Cranberries until November On May 31, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/866 of 28 May 2021 suspending commercial policy measures concerning certain products originating in the USA imposed by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/886.   Under this Regulation, the EU suspends the application of additional ad valorem duty of 25% on imports of US dried cranberries (20089391) until November 30, 2021.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/866 of 28 May 2021 US-Japan: Trade Agreement, Third Year of Implementation According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN report, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA), ratified in 2019, entered “Year 3” of ratification on April 1, 2021. Consequently, the following tariffs are now applying for several US nuts and nut products exported to Japan.   Product Name Japan Customs HS Code Base Rate Year 3 (2021) Almonds (fresh or dried/roasted, no sugar) 080211200, 080212200/200819222 2.4% / 5.0% Free Walnuts (shelled, fresh or dried) 80232000 10.0% Free Pecans (fresh or dried/roasted, no sugar) 080290300, 200819223 4.5% / 5.0% Free Hazelnuts or filberts (shelled, fresh or dried) 80222000 6.0% Free Peanuts (shelled, other than seed) 120242091 10.0% Free Flour, meal and powder of fruit and nuts (excl. bananas) 110630200 15.0% 5.0% Peanut butter (contain sugar/no sugar) 200811110/200811210 12.0%/10.0% 4.0%/3.3% Other nuts (roasted, no sugar) 200819228 5.0% Free Cashew nuts (prep. or preserved, contain sugar) and other roasted nuts (contain sugar) 200819191, 200819192 11.0% 3.6% Ground nuts (excl. peanut butter, prep./preserved, contains sugar) 200811120 23.8% 7.9% Ground nuts (shelled, roasted/prepared or preserved), no sugar 200811292/200811299 21.3% Free Macadamia nuts (fresh/dried, prep./preserved, no sugar) 080262000, 200819221 5.0% Free Other nuts (prepared or preserved, no sugar) 200819229 12.0% 4.0% Cashew nuts (prepared or preserved, no sugar) 200819225 10.0% Free Preserved nuts (contain sugar) 200819199 16.8% 5.6% Coconuts, brazil nuts, paradise nuts and hazelnuts (prepared or preserved, no sugar) 200819224 10.0% Free   Link to the USDA GAIN report can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-june-2021Food Safety Update: June 2021 EU: Feedback on Regulation 1793/2019, Contaminants, Increased Controls and Emergency Measures In recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products (FRUCOM), the European Commission offered an update regarding the proposed changes of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 1793/2019 on the temporary increase of official controls and emergency measures governing the entry into the Union of certain goods from certain third countries.   For Ochratoxin A, the European Commission and Member States consider appropriate the following limits: 8 ppb for dried vine fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas) and dried figs, 2 ppb for other dried fruit (including dates), 5 ppb for pistachios, the latter being approved in mid-June. For hydrocyanic acid, the discussion is still ongoing. A maximum level of 35 ppm is provisionally concluded for almonds, however, no final decisions have been made. India: Prunes Not Subject to non-GM cum GM-Free Status Certificate Requirement On April 13, 2021, the FAS New Delhi\Office of Agricultural Affairs secured confirmation from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) Director of Imports, Dr. Amit Sharma, that prunes from plums (Prunus domestica) are a processed food product (dried fruit). As such, prunes are not subject to the non-Genetically Modified (GM) cum GM-Free status certificate requirement.   According to FSSAI, the requirement to obtain a non-GM cum GM-Free status certificate for all food import consignments containing any of 24 specific foods (including fruits, vegetables, and grains) does not apply to processed food products in general. Link to the USDA GAIN Report can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-june-2021EU-US: EU Suspends Additional Duties on Cranberries until NovemberOn May 31, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/866 of 28 May 2021 suspending commercial policy measures concerning certain products originating in the USA imposed by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/886.   Under this Regulation, the EU suspends the application of additional ad valorem duty of 25% on imports of US dried cranberries (20089391) until November 30, 2021.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/866 of 28 May 2021 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-us-eu-suspends-additional-duties-on-cranberries-until-novemberBrief COVID-19 Update: June 2, 2021The European Region reported the largest decline, followed by South East Asia, mainly driven by a consistent drop of India’s caseload. However, the report warns that the incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths remain high, and substantial increases have been observed in many countries throughout the world, particularly in the Americas.   With nearly 1.8 billion vaccine doses administered, the global immunization campaign continues at a rhythm of around 30 million jabs per day. However, despite the staggering numbers, the majority of the wealthiest countries account for a large part of these inoculations, while Africa and South East Asia currently account for a small fraction of the world’s vaccinations. In a recent message to the World Health Assembly, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres called for a global plan for equitable access to “COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments”.   World trade’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis hit a record high in the first quarter of 2021, increasing by 10% year-over-year and 4% quarter-over-quarter, according to UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update released on May 19. According to UNCTAD, the impressive rebound in Q1 2021 continued to be driven by the strong export performance of East Asian economies, whose early success in pandemic mitigation allowed them to rebound faster and to capitalize on booming global demand for COVID-19 related products.   WTO’s Goods Barometer, an indicator for world trade, provides real-time information on the trajectory of merchandise trade relative to recent trends. The barometer&#39;s recent reading of 109.7 is nearly 10 points above the baseline value of 100 for the index and up 21.6 points year on year, reflecting both the strength of the current recovery and the depth of the COVID-19 shock last year.   In the last month, all of the barometer&#39;s component indices were above trend and rising, highlighting the broad-based nature of the recovery and signaling an accelerating pace of trade expansion. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-june-2-2021More Than 1,300 in the Nut and Dried Fruit Industry Come Together for the INC 3D Online ConferenceJune 2, 2021. The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC), has just concluded their 2021 INC 3D Online Conference which took place May 25-27. The conference brought together more than 1,300 industry professionals in the nut and dried fruit industry from over 70 countries around the world.   The conference featured highly informative working group sessions for each product under the INC umbrella and they covered the next crop forecasts, supply and demand, consumption, and many more of the hottest topics like sustainability, tariffs, and the impact of COVID-19 on the nut and dried fruit industry. Demand across the entire industry continues to climb and there is an increase in efforts to maintain the growing consumption. Despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19, there have also been opportunities, like increased snacking, ingredient-based usage, home baking, and an increased focus on health foods. The working groups also elaborated on the growing importance of sustainability and efforts being taken by the sector to increase sustainable activities. The industry experts also addressed the shipping and logistic challenges, along with the impact of climate change on crops.   Tree nut production in 2021/2022 is forecasted to reach similar levels to the previous season: global production is estimated at 5.2 million metric tons (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts in kernel basis; pistachios in-shell basis), with expected annual increments between 16% and 3% in pine nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts and almonds, mainly backed by increased planted areas and/or yields. Climate change, mostly droughts and frosts, might impact some crop outcomes.   Similarly, forecasted at 47.8 million MT (in-shell basis), global peanut production is also anticipated to remain within the previous season range. The outlook on overall volumes and quality is optimistic. Driven by the healthy and plant-based diets trends, snacking and new product consumption has been on the rise in Europe as well as in Argentina, although the export market remains this origin&#39;s main focus. Chinese domestic market, traditionally dominated by oil consumption, is also seeing some growth in snacking and ingredients.   Mainly due to a 34% and 11% expected increment in global prune and table date production respectively, total dried fruit production (table dates, dried apricots, sweetened dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes and dried grapes –raisins, Sultanas and currants) for 2021/22 is forecasted at 3.1 million metric tons, up by 7% compared to 2020/21. Carry-over stocks are expected to be reduced by 7% from 2021/22 and overall supply and demand in balance. Retail sales were increased during 2020 as a result of lockdowns.   Moreover, participants were able to watch the on-demand sessions of Nutfruit & Immunity, covering the health benefits of nuts and dried fruit in the context of COVID-19, Nutfruit & Sustainability, covering how the nut and dried fruit industry can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Industry Marketing Programs Update, highlighting the amazing marketing campaigns currently underway around the world which promote the consumption of nuts and dried fruits. The conference also offered sponsor sessions and an exhibition hall providing the event’s sponsors with a direct connection to the attendees to present business solutions. All of the sessions were available in Nutflix, which served as a one-stop place to watch every session from the conference. Download the press release here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/more-than-1-300-in-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industry-come-together-for-the-inc-3d-online-conferenceCOVID-19 Update: May 20, 2021To date, around 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of nearly 24 million jabs given each day. Despite the large number of doses given, the majority have been distributed in a few western countries. In a recent media briefing, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged wealthier countries to donate vaccine doses to the COVAX scheme, pointing out that currently, low-income nations only receive 0.3 % of the coronavirus vaccines supply.   The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published a report showing that the OECD area unemployment rate declined slightly in March 2021 to 6.5%, a 0.1% decrease compared to the previous month. However, the unemployment rate is still 1.2% higher than in February 2020, just before the beginning of the pandemic. UN On May 6, the United Nations (UN) published a set of guidelines aimed at helping the maritime industry protect seafarers’ human rights. The guidelines, co-developed by the UN, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), were developed following reports of around 400,000 seafarers being stranded at sea as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on travel and transit.   On May 11, the UN published the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-year update. According to the report, although the outlook for global growth has improved, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in many poorer countries, as well as their lack of access to vaccination programs, are putting such recovery at risk.   The report also highlights that, while a strong rebound in global trade was observed for economies heavily reliant on manufacturing, countries that depend on tourism are unlikely to experience a quick recovery. UNECE In a recent online Forum event presented by the UNECE’s UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), the agency presented a series of recommendations and e-business standards aimed to help boost trade and e-commerce and to promote recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.   The Forum highlighted how digital information systems (such as trade information portals, supply chain track and trace systems) can have a positive impact on collaboration between stakeholders, as well as promoting the transition towards a digital economy. WHO The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent epidemiology update reported that new COVID-19 cases slightly decreased in the past week. Increased caseloads were instead observed in South East Asia and Western Pacific regions, with India accounting for around 50% of the global cases and 30% of global deaths.   On May 7, the WHO approved China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, therefore paving the way for its inclusion in the COVAX program. The vaccine, produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, is recommended for adults 18 and older, with a two-dose schedule spaced over a period of three to four weeks. On May 10, the WHO announced that the B.1.617 coronavirus variant, first sequenced in India (the so-called “Indian variant”) was now being classified as a “variant of concern”. The new classification is based on early evidence that B.1.617 showed higher transmissibility. WTO In a recent meeting of the World Economic Forum, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that a more equal vaccine distribution worldwide was necessary to stimulate the economic recovery from the pandemic. Moreover, due to the developing countries’ poor access to jabs, foreign direct investments and trade will struggle to recover to pre-pandemic values. Australia The vaccination campaign in Australia is progressing, with nearly 3 million doses administered so far. According to a recent press release by ABC News, the Australian government has agreed to a deal with the vaccine producer Moderna for a supply of 25 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. Brazil On May 8, Brazil surpassed the 15 million cases recorded. New infections are declining compared to the March peak, however around 2,000 daily deaths are currently being reported. According to Reuters, the Brazilian government has pledged around $1 billion of federal spending towards the production, supply and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Chile New COVID-19 cases and deaths in Chile are finally decreasing. On May 13, the government lifted the lockdown in the capital city of Santiago, although restrictions will still apply during the weekends. EU On May 13, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly surveillance report. Based on the data collected by the agency, the 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was 277 per 100,000 population, decreasing for five weeks in a row. Hospitalization rates in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are still at high levels or have been increasing in most EU/EEA countries, whereas the mortality rate has been decreasing for the past two weeks.   On May 12, the European Commission published its Spring 2021 Economic Forecast. According to the report, the EU economy is set to expand by 4.2% in 2021 and by 4.4% in 2022, a 0.4% increase compared to the previous winter assessment. The latest forecast indicates that EU economies should recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022, as vaccination rates increased and restrictions are eased. Unemployment levels however are predicted to remain higher than pre-crisis levels for the next two years.   “The shadow of COVID-19 is beginning to lift from Europe&#39;s economy”, said the EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni.   In a recent press release by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm urged Member States to jointly restrict travel to and from India temporarily, aiming to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus Variant of Concern (VOC) B.1.617.2 (also known as “Indian variant”). For people traveling for essential reasons, the Commission called on Member States to apply additional restricting measures such as additional testing and quarantine arrangements, regardless of whether travelers have been vaccinated. Belgium In recent news by Euractiv, the Belgian government announced a five-step gradual easing of its COVID-19 restriction, starting from June 9. From the next month, hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen indoor activities between 8 am and 10 pm. Entertainment and sporting venues will also reopen, while weddings and funerals will be allowed with up to 100 participants indoors or 200 people outdoors. Germany Since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has recorded around 3.4 million cases and more than 84,000 deaths. New COVID-19 infections have been steadily decreasing for three weeks: the current national 7-day incidence has decreased to 129 cases per 100,000 population. According to a recent report by the Robert Koch Institute, nearly one-third of Germany’s population received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.   On May 14, the German newspaper Die Welle published a press release stating that the country’s government included the UK in the list of countries considered at “high risk” for coronavirus infection, due to the increased incidence in the British isles of the variant of concern, “Indian variant”, recently reported by the UK government. Italy Currently, every Italian region (except for Valle d’Aosta) is classified as a low-risk “yellow area”, thus allowing free movement between regions from 5 am to 10 pm. Hospitality venues are allowed to open outdoor terraces only until June 1, when bars and restaurants will be also allowed to reopen indoor.   According to Reuters, a recent study carried out by Italy&#39;s National Institute of Health (ISS) and the country’s ministry of health, highlighted that the COVID-19 vaccines currently administered in Italy were able to prevent around 80% of COVID-19 infections in adults five weeks after the first dose was administered. Moreover, a further 90% reduction in hospitalizations and 95% reduction in deaths were observed. Netherlands COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Netherlands are decreasing, although the pressure on the healthcare system remains elevated. Despite this, the Dutch government is set to announce further relaxation measures, which would allow for longer opening hours for the hospitality sector and the reopening of sport venues. Spain On May 9, the Spanish government ended the country’s state of alarm, thus allowing for the first time in months free movement between autonomous communities. Several communities, however, are currently debating the introduction of local measures to avoid a possible resurgence in cases.   Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign is progressing: nearly 7 million people, accounting for around 15% of Spain’s population, are now fully vaccinated. Moreover, the government reportedly announced plans to extend the vaccination offered to people under 50 years of age. India India’s second wave continues, with around 350,000 cases and 4,000 deaths being reported daily. New infections are increasing outside the urban areas, thus posing additional strain to the healthcare in the countryside.   In recent news, from Reuters, rating agency Moody&#39;s highlighted that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India will hinder the economic recovery for the year and potentially curb long-term growth. Moreover, the agency predicts a wider fiscal deficit and increased public debt for the next two years, compared to previous estimations. Japan The country is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with 7 prefectures reporting record daily highs. As result, on May 14, the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reportedly announced the prorogation of the containment measures currently in place until May 31. Moreover, the state of emergency has been extended to the prefectures of Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima.  South Korea New cases have been rising in the past week, bringing the total caseload to more than 130,000. The vaccination campaign is also ramping up: on May 13, a shipment of 850,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was delivered.   According to The Korea Times, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported that more than one in four COVID-19 patients recently screened were infected with a coronavirus variant. Turkey New COVID-19 cases have been steadily dropping for the past four weeks: on May 14, the country recorded around 13,000 new cases, down from 63,000 at the start of the April wave. As cases decrease, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly announced on May 12 that the coronavirus restriction would be gradually eased by the end of Eid al-Fitr holiday on May 17. United Kingdom COVID-19 cases and deaths in the UK are at their lowest since last August. However, local spikes in new infections have been reported in northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with the 14-day incidence as high as 199.9.   On May 3, Public Health England announced that more than 50 million vaccine doses have been administered: around 34 million people have received at least one dose, whereas 15 million are now fully vaccinated.   Since May 17, international travel to and from the UK restarted, following an announcement made by the British Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps. However, different levels of restriction will be applied to individuals returning to England from countries based on a “traffic light system”. Currently, only 12 countries are on the “green list”: passengers who have visited or transited through one of these nations will not be required to quarantine on arrival in England. United States With COVID-19 cases continuing to fall and around 100 million people already fully vaccinated, coronavirus restrictions are loosening for fully immunized Americans. According to the most recent guidance published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting.   On May 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a news release announcing that it had expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age. The US is the second country to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech jab for an underage group, after Canada’s approval on May 5.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-may-20-2021INC Launches the 11th Edition of the Statistical YearbookAccording to the data analyzed, both nut and dried fruit supply and consumption are on the rise. The publication first summarizes the world dynamics in production and consumption of each nut and dried fruit over the last decade, and then analyzes them in detail. These studies cover the following topics: Trends in production and country share: 10-years series, current season and 5-year average. Export, import and market share of leading players: 10-years series, current season and 5-year average. Variations in estimated consumption: 5-year series. The data analysis indicates that the total production of tree nuts (kernel basis, except pistachios in-shell) has continuously risen in the last decade, reaching over 5.3 million metric tons in 2020/21, up by 65% from 10 years ago and 15% from the previous season. Last season largest crops were almonds with 31% of the world share, followed by walnuts and pistachios (19% each), cashews (16%) and hazelnuts (10%), respectively. Pecans, macadamias, Brazil nuts and pine nuts represented the remaining 5%. Concomitantly, tree nut exports (shelled, with exception of in-shell pistachios), also reflected a positive trajectory with an average growth of 103,000 MT per year, hitting over 2.9 million MT in 2019. Global consumption, estimated at 4.6 million MT, showed an annual growing trend of 181,000 MT/year, on average.   World peanut production in 2020/21 totaled over 47.5 million MT, a 7% increase over the previous season and a 33% increase over 2011/12, continuing the positive trend observed over the previous ten years. China accounted for 37% of the world crop, with India accounting for 14%. Nigeria (8%), the US (6%), Senegal, and Argentina (3% each) were the next leading producers. In 2019, total shelled peanut exports reached 2.4 million MT, and grew by an average annual rate of 136,000 MT over the last decade. Global demand, estimated at 42 million MT, increased at an average rate of 1 million MT per year between 2010 and 2019.   Similarly, dried fruit production has increased over the last decade, reaching 2.9 million MT in 2020/21, 22% above 2011/12. Dried grape production (raisins, Sultanas, and currants) accounted for 42% of global production, with table dates accounting for 35%. The remaining 23% was split into dried cranberries (7%), dried apricots (6%), prunes and figs (5% each). Dried fruit exports totaled approximately 2.8 million MT in 2019, increasing at a steady rate of about 130,000 MT/year. On average, overall consumption has risen by 80,000 MT per year. Read the Statistical Yearbook here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-launches-the-11th-edition-of-the-statistical-yearbookLatest INC Trade Map SeriesThe 2021 issue of the bi-annual World Nut and Dried Fruit Trade Maps is available through the INC website featuring 6 separate maps: Tree Nut Trade Flows (Kernel Basis and Pistachios In-Shell) In-Shell Tree Nut Trade Flows Intra-European Tree Nut Trade Flows Peanut Trade Flows Dried Fruit Trade Flows Intra-European Dried Fruit Trade Flows This publication&#39;s goal is to make it simple to visualize the major global nut and dried fruit trade flows between the top origins and destinations, as well as the traded volumes of each nut and dried fruit among them. See the INC Trade Maps here.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-inc-trade-map-seriesNut Intake May Increase Cognitive Performance of Older AdultsMay 19, 2021. A team of researchers from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, Australia have studied the impact of consuming nuts on cognitive performance among older adults in the US.   The study included 1,814 participants all above the age of 60 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2011-2012 and 2014-2014 cohorts. Researchers monitored the participants’ nut intake and diet quality with two 24-hour diet recalls and split them into four groups considering their nut intake: non-consumers (0 g/d), low intake (0.1-15 g/d), moderate intake (15.1-30.0 g/d) or met recommendation (>30 g/d).   The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease or CERAD test was used to evaluate the cognitive function of each participant. This included immediate and delayed recall, verbal fluency, and processing speed and attention.   The results of the study showed a consistent difference in cognitive performance between older adults who were in the non-consumers group and those in the moderate nut intake group. The lowest cognitive performance was found in older adults who did not consume any nuts and the highest scores were found in those who consumed 15.1 g/d and 30.0 g/d. It was noted that increasing consumption to over 30.0 g/d did not lead to higher cognitive performance compared to the moderate intake group.   In conclusion, the study suggests that moderate intake of nuts, equivalent to half to a serving of nuts, may aid and increase cognitive performance among older adults.   Lead investigator, Dr. Sze-Yen Tan, said the findings confirmed the benefits of adhering to the current nut intake recommendation of 30g a day.   “Eating a handful of nuts each day is a simple dietary strategy that improves cognitive performance in for older adults, among many other already well-established health benefits,” he said.   This study was funded by the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. Download the press release here. Tan, S. Y., Georgousopoulou, E. N., Cardoso, B. R., Daly, R. M., & George, E. S. (2021). Associations between nut intake, cognitive function and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in older adults in the United States: NHANES 2011-14. BMC geriatrics, 21(1), 313. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02239-1 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/nut-intake-may-increase-cognitive-performance-of-older-adultsThe Nut and Dried Fruit Industry Virtually Unites for the INC 3D Online ConferenceMay 13, 2021. More than 1,300 attendees from over 85 countries are expected to join the INC 3D Online Conference from May 25-27, 2021. The event will be held using a virtual platform in which participants can customize an avatar to explore all that the conference has to offer. The online conference will feature live nut and dried fruit working group webinars led by industry leaders from around the world, giving insights and updates on topics such as production, trade, consumption, consumer trends, and other topics relevant to each product. Moreover, the event will include on-demand sessions which participants can watch on their own time. Apart from each product working group being available on-demand, attendees can also watch Nutfruit & Immunity, which will focus on nutrition and scientific research examining the health benefits of nuts and dried fruits, Nutfruit & Sustainability, which will highlight the sustainable activities of the sector, and Industry Marketing Programs Update, where participants can hear about the latest promotional activities from nut and dried fruit associations around the world. In addition, on-demand videos will feature sponsor videos and the Innovation Award Applicants. All of the live sessions will be recorded and published in Nutflix, so participants can re-watch the conference’s sessions or view them at a time that best suits them. Nutflix will also host all of the on-demand videos, making it the one-stop spot to catch all of the conference’s sessions. Brand new to this event is an interactive 3D virtual exhibition area where sponsors who have a booth can expose their brand, product, and services to the entire industry. Furthermore, attendees’ customizable avatars can explore the virtual platform to network by visiting the Nutfruit Cafe Corners where they will be able to foster existing and new business relationships, and enjoy all the conference has to offer. Additionally, the INC will give out this year’s Innovation Award, which recognizes some of the brightest and most innovative products in the nut and dried fruit industry. Visit the INC 3D Online Conference website to register for the event, see the preliminary program, sponsorship opportunities, Innovation Award information, and discover who is already attending Download the press release here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industry-virtually-unites-for-the-inc-3d-online-conferenceBrief COVID-19 Update: May 12, 2021India continues to account for nearly half of new infections and one in four deaths worldwide. Case incidences are instead decreasing in Europe and the Americas, where a mix of containment measures and increasingly successful vaccination campaigns seem to contribute to the downward trend. In Europe, as new cases are decreasing and vaccination campaigns are speeding up, the relaxation of travel restrictions is being debated. On May 3, the European Commission published a recommendation to the Member States to gradually ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel for foreign tourists that are fully vaccinated, or come from countries with a positive epidemiological situation. Moreover, the Commission is pushing for the introduction of the green digital certificate –a COVID-19 certification system that would allow free travel within the Union– as early as the end of June 2021. In the United States, the epidemiological situation is gradually improving: new cases and deaths have been falling for the past two weeks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one third of  Americans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On May 6, Associated Press reported that the United States President Joe Biden set a further vaccination goal to cover 70% of the US adult population with at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. India continues to report record numbers of daily new infections and deaths, a clear sign that the latest wave is far from over. The country’s COVID-19 cases recently surpassed 21 million, while reported deaths have passed 220,000. On May 5, the Reserve Bank of India announced it would make available around $6.7 billion in loans for vaccine makers, hospitals and other health firms currently battling the ongoing coronavirus crisis. In recent news from the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailed the announcement of the U.S. administration’s decision to support the waiving of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, intended to help stimulate global vaccines supplies and distribution worldwide. Dr. Ghebreyesus described it as “a powerful example of leadership to address global health challenges”. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-may-12-2021Become a Sponsor and Exhibitor for the INC 3D Online ConferenceFrom May 25-27, 2021, the INC is hosting a 3D Online Conference meant to unite the entire nut and dried fruit industry. The event will provide a space to conduct business, network, and learn about the latest updates from the sector. One of the most anticipated features of the conference is the brand-new 3D platform which will host a virtual exhibition hall, allowing sponsors and exhibitors to showcase their company, products, and services, expanding their reach within the nut and dried fruit industry. This exhibition area invites all participants to explore other businesses within the sector, make connections, and foster existing and new business relationships. These 3D virtual booths and platform will provide attendees with an almost real-life experience by being able to walk around, interact in real time with other avatars, and explore other company&#39;s products in the exhibition area! To have a virtual interactive booth during the INC 3D Online Conference, there are two options with different price levels and varying benefits, meaning you can find the best option for your company. For €6,000 you can become a General Sponsor which includes the following benefits:   1 complimentary INC Congress delegates (to be used within 5 years). Sponsor session of 20-25 minutes, you can choose to deliver a pre-recorded presentation or an interview to be broadcasted between Nuts and Dried Fruits Working Groups. Use your sponsor session to reach an international audience. 1 customizable and interactive booth. Half-page advertorial in the July 2021 issue of the Nutfruit Magazine, which reaches a potential audience of over 6000. Company videos broadcasted on the Nut & Dried Fruit “Nutflix”, the platform’s integrated video area hosting all of the conference’s sessions and much more. Company logo on all online graphic materials and INC publications: website, 3D platform, INC newsletters, and Nutfruit Magazine. The second option is to become a Virtual Exhibitor for just €2,000 which includes the following benefits:   1 customizable and interactive booth. Company Videos broadcasted on your virtual booth. Company logo on all online graphic materials and INC publications: website, 3D platform, INC newsletters, and Nutfruit Magazine.   Moreover, the INC also offers the opportunity to become a Working Group Sponsor for only €4,000! While the working group sponsors don’t have a virtual booth, this sponsorship puts your brand in front the of the entire conference. The benefits include:   Video advertisement of 30 seconds to be broadcasted before and after 2 working groups to be chosen by the sponsor. Company videos broadcasted on the Nut & Dried Fruit “Nutflix”, the platform’s integrated video area hosting all of the conference’s sessions and much more. Company logo on all online graphic materials and INC publications: website, 3D platform, INC newsletters, and Nutfruit Magazine. Don’t waste any more time, go visit the INC 3D Online Conference website and discover all of the great benefits and options to become a sponsor and exhibitor! Thank You to Our Sponsors  https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/become-a-sponsor-and-exhibitor-for-the-inc-3d-online-conference2021 Online International Peanut Forum: Peanut Supply and Demand PanelsThe INC attended both the Peanut Supply and demand Panels for The Americas and Asia, where the supply and demand state of affairs was discussed for each region. South and Central America. Peanut Supply and Demand Panel – The Americas Representatives of South, Central and North America peanut industry discussed on current production and expectations for the incoming season year-to-date, domestic and international demand for American origins as well as quality and regulations. The panel was moderated by Ryan Lepicier (Senior, Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, National Peanut Board) and the speakers were:   Edoardo Fracanzani (Executive Director of the Argentina Peanut Chamber, Argentina) Robson Fonseca (Foreign Trade Manager, Coplana, Brazil) Joaquin Zavala (General Manager, Comasa, Nicaragua) Bob Parker (President & CEO, National Peanut Board, USA) Argentina most recent survey among producers estimates a 2020/2021 yield of 2.36 metric tons per hectare (kernel basis, around 3.37 in-shell basis), lower than last year, which was a particularly good season with a very high yield (2.78 MT/ha kernel basis), but still an average yield for Argentina. With 386,000 ha planted, and the harvesting operation just starting for the shorter cycle varieties, a production of around 1.3 million MT in-shell basis/910,000 MT kernel basis is anticipated. Quality is expected to be fairly good.   In Brazil, in spite of having started planting later –planting took place during November at December, while it usually starts in October– 2020/21 planted area planted area was increased by 5-6% from the previous season and it amounted to 240,000 ha. This trend is expected to continue in the next 3 years. Brazil has already harvested 95% of its peanut crop; and while weather was good during December and January, droughts from February onwards, have impacted big calibers and quality for the remaining harvest. However, 70% of the early harvest was of very good quality, meeting EU standards.   The next growing season in Nicaragua will start around mid-June and both planted area and production are expected to be similar to 2020. For the US, the National Peanut Board expects planted area this year to be at least the same as last year, or even slightly higher.   Growers’ decision regarding planting peanuts or other competing crops, such as cotton or corn in the US; sugar cane or soybean in Brazil, sugar cane in Nicaragua or grains in Argentina, are affected by different variables in each origin. While planting intentions in the US, Brazil and Nicaragua seem to be mostly related to competing crop prices, in Argentina, where planted areas are steady in general, planting intentions might be more affected by the taxes rates applied to agricultural commodity exports.   As for demand, Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua are focused mainly on exports markets. Although production is three time bigger than local consumption, domestic demand in Brazil is growing year o year; 2020 has seen a big increase due to the pandemic-induced consumer behavior. Main markets for Nicaraguan edible peanuts are currently the EU and Mexico, Central America is a mature market and oil is mainly exported to China.   The year 2020 has also set a record for peanut consumption in the US. For the current marketing year, ending in July 31, there was already an increase of 2.9%, which is significant considering the US is a very mature market. Product innovation has surely been a huge driver for peanut local consumption. In terms of international demand, Canada and Mexico are strong markets, as there are no tariffs limitations and China is still a very solid buyer of US peanuts.  Peanut Supply and Demand Panel – Asia Representatives of the Chinese and Indian peanut industry recapped on 2020 observed trends on supply, exports and demand, and discussed on expectations for 2021. The panel was moderated by Jason Chen (Senior Sourcing Manager, Asia Nuts Mars Wrigley, China) and the speakers were:   Charlie Jia (Chairman, Qingdao Foodlink Co Ltd., China) Kobe He (Business Manager, Sinopharm Group, China) Kishore Tanna (Indian Oilseeds & Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC), India) Khushwant Jain (Chairman, Indian Oilseeds & Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC), India). On the supply side, is still early to anticipate the planted area in China (planting starts in late April-early May). However, two approaches were discussed: i) considering that last year wheat and corn prices increased by over 40%, peanut planted area might be slightly reduced in favor of the cereal, as peanut is a commonly rotated with these two crops. ii) On the other hand, due to the increased domestic demand seen last year, high prices (the highest over the last 5 years), along with local policies supporting peanut planting, sowing area is expected to increased compared to last year. In India, this year’s planting is expected to be at least similar to the previous season, or even higher, as peanut production areas has recently expanded to two new provinces. Prices are good and the crop forecast is looking promising.   Regarding exports, Indian international shipments last year amounted to around 679,000 metric tons of raw peanuts, and a similar volume is expected to be reached this year. The biggest market remains oil, but peanut paste, blanched peanuts and domestic markets are also increasing. China expects the European market to remain stable throughout 2021.   Finally, domestic demand for peanut oil in China has increased significantly as a result of COVID19 restrictions, particularly in major cities. In India, however, the pandemic had a significant impact on the HORECA sector, with demand falling by 40% and not being offset by household demand. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/2021-online-international-peanut-forum-peanut-supply-and-demand-panelsCOVID-19 Update: May 5, 2021To date, more than 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, at a ratio of 19 million jabs given each day. In the US and the UK, more than half of the adults have received at least one dose. In Europe, the number of vaccinated people recently surpassed that of the infected. Moreover, new cases and hospitalizations are finally declining.   The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published a report indicating that the pandemic has determined the largest decrease in taxes on wages since the global financial crisis of 2008-09 across the OECD countries. According to the analysis, the fall is due to declining household incomes, as well as tax reforms linked to COVID-19 support measures. UN In recent news from the United Nations (UN), a report developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that 7,000 health workers have died since the outbreak of the crisis, while 136 million health and social care workers are currently at risk of contracting COVID-19 through work.   The report indicates that International labour standards (ILS) can offer specific guidance on how to develop a more robust occupational safety and health environment, so to reduce the risk of virus transmission in the workplace. UNCTAD A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) analyzed the causes behind the surge in container freight rates worldwide. The document highlights that changes in consumption and shopping patterns triggered by the pandemic, capacity management by carriers at the beginning of the crisis, and ongoing COVID-19-related delays in transport connection points (such as ports) are the main drivers of these price increases.   The report includes suggestions on how to reduce the likelihood of a similar situation in the future with actions such as advancing trade facilitation reforms, improving maritime trade tracking and forecasting, and strengthening national competition authorities UNECE On April 26, a press release published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) stated that the UNECE’s UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), in partnership with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), are developing and offering technical specifications on air cargo digitalization.   The agencies are developing technical specifications on the digitalization of multimodal transport data and document exchange to Member States and other stakeholders as international public goods, at a time when the pandemic is causing major disruptions on trade. According to UNECE, implementation of these digital trade tools and policies ‘could make an important contribution to countries’ socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.’  WHO The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent epidemiology update reported that new COVID-19 cases rose for the ninth consecutive week. Increased caseloads are observed in South East Asia and Western Pacific regions, with India accounting for nearly 40% of the global new infections last week.   According to a press release published by the UN, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are mobilizing medical supplies and other resources to assist India’s emergency situation. Moreover, the WHO is helping India to scale-up additional hospital beds by procuring mobile field hospitals which could be set up in the most affected areas.  WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) has published a report highlighting that the participation of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) in world trade has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The document points at LLDCs&#39; export competitiveness being negatively affected by a lack of sea access, as well as the distance from international markets and high transit costs.   Trade-restrictive measures imposed by governments in response to the crisis have led to increased trading costs, delays for traded goods and additional technical barriers to trade, negatively impacting LLDC’s economies. Proposed WTO-sponsored initiatives, such as Aid for Trade, may help these countries to build the trade infrastructure necessary to facilitate commercial exchanges. Australia On April 27, Australia announced a travel ban for direct flights arriving from India. This measure is scheduled to remain in place until May 15. Brazil New COVID-19 cases in Brazil have been slightly decreasing following late March’s peak, however fatalities are still ranging in the thousands every week. So far, the country reported a total of around 14 million cases and nearly 400,000 deaths. Containment measures vary from city to city, from mandatory face masks to localized lockdowns. Chile On April 26, the Chilean government announced that the country’s borders will remain closed throughout May. Chile’s COVID-19 cases are starting to fall, however most of the country is still experiencing restrictions on movement. EU On April 30, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly surveillance report. Based on the data collected by the agency, the 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was 396 per 100,000 population, decreasing for three weeks in a row. However, hospitalizations have been increasing in most EU/EEA countries, while the mortality rate has been stable for eight weeks.   According to a study conducted by the ECDC in collaboration with 7 EU countries, the three COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC), first identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), and Brazil (P.1) can determine higher risk for hospitalization and intensive care admission. “The findings underline the increased risk for severe disease associated with VOC, and further emphasise the necessity to rapidly reach high levels of vaccine coverage together with continued adherence to public health measures to reduce SARS-CoV-2 incidence and severe cases”, concludes the report.   According to a recent press release, the ECDC and the European Medicine Agency (EMA) agreed to a joint initiative aimed at strengthening the post-marketing surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines. The two agencies will conduct observational studies to monitor how these novel vaccines perform in real-life.   On April 27, the European Commission announced that EU countries will offer support to India via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Under the initiative, oxygen, medicine and equipment will be delivered to support the alarming epidemiological situation in India. The Commission indicated that further contributions will be expected by other Member States.   “Our Emergency Response Coordination Centre is facilitating the logistical arrangements and the EU will cover the brunt of the transport costs,” said in a statement Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management. France After peaking at the beginning of April, the epidemiological situation in France is showing signs of improvement. Restriction measures are also beginning to ease, with schools being allowed to reopen since April 26. However, new travel restrictions were introduced, with border controls being reinforced for arrivals from Brazil, India, South Africa and Chile. Germany Since the beginning of the pandemic, Germany has recorded around 3.3 million cases and more than 83,000 deaths. Despite a reported decrease of new cases, the current national 7-day incidence of 155 cases per 100,000 population is still considered to be of ‘high risk’ by the German Government. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the incidence shows that there is still ongoing community transmission of COVID-19, particularly in households, day-care facilities for children and increasingly in schools, as well as in occupational settings. Italy Emerging from a month of strict containment measures, the majority of Italy’s regions finally moved into the low-risk “yellow” category on April 26. The hospitality sector is allowed to reopen to the public, while entertainment venues can operate at 50% capacity. To date, more than 19 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Around 5.7 million people are now fully vaccinated.   On April 27, the Italian Parliament approved a € 222 billion EU-funded recovery plan. The funding is expected to promote Italy’s digital and ecological transitions, infrastructure modernization, research and development, and employment. Netherlands The country has been recording an average of 8,000 daily new infections in the past two weeks. The positivity rate is increasing, currently around 10%, while the reproduction value (Rt) remains stable slightly above 1. Since last week, non-essential shops are allowed to open. Moreover, outdoor seating areas at restaurants and cafés can be open between 12:00 and 6:00 pm. Spain After an initial increase in mid-April, new infections are now declining in Spain. However, according to the country’s health ministry, the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is still above the threshold of ‘maximum risk’. Intensive care units (ICUs) occupancy rates by COVID-19 patients have been stable at around 20% of capacity.   According to Euractiv, the Spanish Government has started distributing the coronavirus recovery funds to the country’s autonomous regions. €2.1 billion have been distributed so far, with further €26 billion expected by the end of the year. India India continues reporting record numbers of daily new infections, bringing the total at more than 18 million cases. Overall deaths recently surpassed 200,000, with daily casualties topping more than 3,000 on April 29.    In an attempt to ramp up vaccination rates, on April 28 all Indian adults were made eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, however shortages of doses have been reported. Lack of medical supplies and oxygen shortage are also contributing to the already difficult situation, although several countries around the world have pledged to send assistance. Japan In the last few days, several prefectures in Japan are reporting increasing positivity rates. In an attempt to curb new infections, the Government has declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and other populous prefectures, ordering hospitality and entertainment venues to close to the public. South Africa After having endured a large spike of infections at the beginning of this year, the epidemiological situation in South Africa is currently stable. The country recently resumed its vaccination campaign with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with healthcare workers designated as a priority group. According to Bloomberg, the country’s health ministry announced that it had secured enough doses to vaccinate 45 million people. South Korea According to Reuters, South Korea announced on April 28 that it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The measure will be applied from May 5 and will allow vaccinated residents to avoid the two-weeks quarantine for people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas travel.   However, these measures will not apply to people coming from countries where the incidence of COVID-19 variants (such as the Brazilian and South African) is high, as well as to people who are vaccinated in foreign countries. Turkey Since the beginning of the pandemic, Turkey has recorded more than 4.6 million cases and nearly 40,000 deaths. The country is currently facing a third wave of new infections, however new cases have been decreasing in the last few days. Despite this, fatalities are still considerably higher than in previous waves.   On April 29, Turkey entered into a new lockdown, which is expected to last until May 17. Citizens are required to stay indoors except for essential reasons, and movement within the country is restricted.  United Kingdom In the UK, weekly new cases and deaths have been falling for several weeks. Around 34 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 13 million are now fully vaccinated.   New research conducted by Public Health England (PHE) showed that one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to 50%. Protection was seen from around 14 days after vaccination, with no distinction of age.   Since April 23, India has been added to the ‘red list’ of countries banned from entry to the UK. Nationals and residents are still allowed to enter the country; however, they will need to spend 10 days quarantine in a government-approved hotel.  United States In the US, the 7-day average of new cases has been decreasing for nearly three weeks. Deaths are decreasing too, albeit at a smaller pace. A slight decrease in hospitalizations is also being reported, as well as a nearly 10% decrease in new hospital admissions.   According to a press release published by CNN, the number of fully vaccinated people in the US has surpassed those who are getting their first dose. However, according to experts interviewed by the network, this could be reflecting a lower demand for jabs, possibly due to ‘vaccine hesitancy’.    A recent CDC assessment found that fully vaccinated adults 65 years and older were 94% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than people of the same age who were not vaccinated. The data was collected on people who received one of the two mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), and are the first real-world findings in the United States confirming previous clinical trial data showing the ability of these vaccines to prevent severe COVID-19 illness. The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-may-5-2021Sustainability Update: April, 2021Sustainability Impact Assessment, EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement On March 29, the European Commission (EC) published the final version of the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) on the potential economic, social, environmental and human rights impact of the trade part of the association agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). A position paper, with comments on the main findings and recommendations of the report, was also presented.   According to the SIA, the EU-Mercosur agreement would have a positive impact on the economies of both blocs and could contribute to the recovery from the economic crisis caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the report states that the EU agricultural sector will also benefit from the agreement, with reduction of non-tariff barriers and protection of EU geographical indications in the American countries.   The report also highlights concerns about the agreement&#39;s potential impact on environment and human rights, noting that an adequate legal framework could help addressing these issues.   The final report can be found here.   The Position Paper can be found in the following link. Uzbekistan Accepted into EU GSP+ Arrangement On April 9, the European Commission published a press release informing that the Republic of Uzbekistan has joined the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) under the unilateral Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP). Following the approval, the EU started applying preferential tariffs for products imported from Uzbekistan. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/agricultural-quality-standards-update-april-2021Pesticides Update: April 2021MRLs Update, Chlorantraniliprole The European Commission has notified the WTO of the ratification of a draft amending Annexes to the Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 on Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). For tree nuts, the new MRL value for chlorantraniliprole will be set to 0.03 mg/kg.   The WTO notification can be found here. Pesticide Update, Abamacetin The European Commission has notified the WTO about a draft Commission Implementing Regulation renewing the approval of the active substance abamectin with restriction to uses in permanent greenhouses. EU Member States shall amend/withdraw authorizations for plant protection products containing abamectin as an active substance. The deadline for comments on the draft is on May 14, 2021.   The WTO notification can be found here. MRLs Update, Flupyradifurone and Difluoroacetic Acid The European Commission has notified the WTO about the draft Regulation reviewing existing MRLs for flupyradifurone and difluoroacetic acid in foodstuff. The levels of difluoroacetic acid in tree nuts are increased from 0.02 to 0.04 mg/kg, while the proposed new levels for flupyradifurone (in tree nuts) are increased to 0.02 mg/kg. Moreover, an increase of MRL for flupyradifurone in table grapes is proposed in the draft, from 0.8 mg/kg to 3 mg/kg. The deadline for comments on the draft is on May 18, 2021.   The WTO notification can be found here. Pesticide Update, Phosmet Non-Renewal The European Commission has notified the WTO about a draft Commission Implementing Regulation, which provides that the approval of the active substance phosmet is not renewed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009. EU Member States shall withdraw authorizations for plant protection products containing phosmet as an active substance. Member States can allow products treated with phosmet a grace period of 6 months from the entry into force of the draft. The deadline for comments on the draft is on May 24, 2021.   The WTO notification can be found here. MRLs Update, Propineb The European Commission has notified the WTO about a draft amending Annexes to the Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 on MRLs. For tree nuts, the MRL value will be set to 0.2 mg/kg. The draft regulation also proposes changes to MRLs for flubendiamide, among others. The deadline for comments on the draft is on May 30, 2021.   The WTO notification can be found here. MRLs Update, Japan In a recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) GAIN report, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) announced revisions to Japan’s MRLs for 13 agricultural chemicals (Tolfenpyrad, Fenquinotrione, Flazasulfuron, Cypermethrin, Isometamidium, Eugenol, Chlorhexidine, Decoquinate, Nafcillin, Nitroxinil, Virginiamycin, Mecillinam, and Menbutone) for various agricultural commodities.   Link to the USDA GAIN report can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-april-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: April 2021Serbia and UK Sign Partnership, Trade and Cooperation Agreement According to a recent press release published by Euractiv, Serbian Trade Minister Tatjana Matić and the British Ambassador to Serbia, Sian MacLeod, signed an agreement to support bilateral partnership, trade and cooperation.   According to Ms. Matić, the agreement would maintain the level of bilateral cooperation that existed prior to Brexit, which will allow British businesses to trade as they did before January 1, 2021. Trade between the two countries is valued at around £682m. UN Initiative to Enhance Agricultural Trade Between African Nations The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with the African Union (AU) Commission, have developed an initiative aiming to boost the agricultural sector to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth across the African continent. Formally known as the “Framework for Boosting Intra-African Trade in Agricultural Commodities and Services”, the initiative covers topics such as infrastructure development, trade policies and market integration, among others. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-april-2021Food Safety Update: April 2021FAO Report: Organic Label Not a Guarantee of Food Safety According to a recent report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the organic label is not a guarantee of food safety. The report argues that the organic certification refers only to a product that has been produced in accordance with certain standards throughout the production, handling, processing and marketing stages; it does not refer to the characteristics and properties of the finished product.   Moreover, the agency says that with the adoption of proper agricultural practices, both conventional and organic farming systems have the potential to produce safe food.   The full report can be found here. EU Import Controls and Emergency Measures: New Provisions for Brazil, China, India and Turkey On April 21, the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/608, amending the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1793 on the temporary increase of official controls and emergency measures governing the entry into the Union of certain goods from certain third countries, entered into force. The following provisions may affect nut and dried fruit imports: For peanuts (groundnuts) from Brazil and from China, the frequency of identity and physical checks are decreased at 10%; For peanuts (groundnuts) from India, the frequency of identity and physical checks to be performed are increased from 10% to 50%; For dried grapes from Turkey, previously listed in Annex I due to the risk of contamination by ochratoxin A, an increased level of official controls is no longer justified, the entry in the Annex should be deleted; For hazelnuts from Turkey, the frequency of non-compliance has decreased: they are deleted from Annex II, and included instead in Annex I, with the frequency of identity and physical checks at 5%. The link to the regulation can be found here. EFSA Publishes Pesticides in Food Report On April 7, the European Food Safety Authority published its latest report on pesticide residues in food in the European Union. According to the data collected (96,302 samples analyzed in 2019), more than 95% of the samples tested contained pesticide residue levels within the permitted levels.   Furthermore, a dietary risk assessment was carried out, suggesting that the food commodities analyzed in 2019 were unlikely to pose a concern for consumer health. The report concludes with recommendations aiming to increase the efficiency of European control systems. Feedback on Regulation 1793/2019, Increased Controls and Emergency Measures In recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products (FRUCOM), the European Commission offered an update regarding the proposed changes of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 1793/2019 on the temporary increase of official controls and emergency measures governing the entry into the Union of certain goods from certain third countries. For Ochratoxin A, the European Commission and Member States consider appropriate the following limits: 8 ppb for dried vine fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas) and dried figs, 2 ppb for other dried fruit (including dates), 5 ppb for pistachios. For hydrocyanic acid, the discussion is still ongoing. A maximum level of 35 ppm is provisionally concluded for almonds, however this limit may still be changed in further rounds of discussions that should take place next month. Chile Introduces Risk Assessment of Plant Products Chile’s Agriculture and Livestock Service (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, SAG) notified the WTO the Resolution No. 1284/2021, establishing the categorization of four groups of plant products according to their pest risk, taking into account the method and level of processing applied, and their intended use. The products include goods entering the country for use as animal feed. The text also covers verification of compliance with the certification requirements for imported organic products.   Roasted and/or salted nuts are placed in the lowest, category one of the new risk profile due to processing. The regulation entered into force on March 16, 2021.   Link to the WTO notification can be found here.           South Korea, Revision on Imported Food Safety Controls South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has notified the WTO of a proposed revision of the "Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control". The revisions proposed include authorization requirements, inspection procedures and increased fines for failing to carry out hygiene inspection for the processing company.   Link to the WTO notification can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-april-2021Promotions Update: April 2021Public Consultation on Promotion of EU Farm and Food Products The European Commission is currently performing a review of the EU agricultural promotion policy, an initiative that aims to increase the awareness of the qualities of EU food products, as well as to enhance the competitiveness of the EU’s agricultural sector.   Since March 31, the Commission is asking for feedback by carrying out a public consultation on the policy, with a view to “enhancing its contribution to sustainable production and consumption, and in line with the shift to a more plant-based diet, with less red and processed meat and more fruit and vegetables.”   Any feedback will be accepted until June 23, 2021 (midnight Brussels time).   A link to the consultation can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/promotions-update-april-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: April 28, 2021Increases in caseloads have been observed in all continents except for Europe. The largest increase continues to be reported by the South-East Asia Region, largely driven by India, which has registered a 50% increase in new infections compared to the previous week.   Last week, an important landmark in the vaccination campaign was reached: more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. In the US, one in three people over the age of 18 years are fully vaccinated and more than half of US adults have received at least one dose of vaccine. In the EU, vaccination programs are finally ramping up inoculation rates. Moreover, several European countries are beginning to loosen restrictions on movement and economic activities.   A recent survey carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that, over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, 90% of countries are still reporting some degree of disruptions to their essential health services, therefore negatively affecting access to care for other health issues. Such disruptions are also having repercussions on mass vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases, putting around 228 million people –mostly children– at risk for diseases such as measles, yellow fever and polio. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-april-28-2021Speakers for the INC's Latest Webinar on the State of the IndustryThe INC will be hosting a webinar on April 26, 2021, 4:00 - 5:00pm CEST. The webinar, titled “Industry Leaders’ Outlook for Nuts & Dried Fruits: A Year Since COVID-19”, will have expert opinions and you will want to be there for the discussion! Lasting a total of one hour, the webinar plans to cover the current state of the nut and dried fruit industry, the demand and prospect for products under the INC umbrella. The panel, consisting of industry leaders from the Americas, Europe, and Asia will analyze key changes that have been brought about as a result of COVID-19 and how these changes will affect the coming years and the future of the sector. Register now! We hope you see you there on April 26, 2021 at 7:00 - 8:00am PDT | 4:00 - 5:00pm CEST | 7:30 - 8:30pm IST | 10:00 - 11:00pm HKT | April 27, 12:00 - 1:00am AEST. Webinar Speakers Webinar Chairman: Mike Hohmann, Executive Vice President and CFO, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, USA Mike Hohmann is Executive Vice President and CFO at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, LLC. A wholly-owned operating company of The Wonderful Company Global, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds is the world’s largest grower, processor, and marketer of pistachios and almonds. As Executive Vice President, Mike is responsible for leading the company’s strategic planning, industrial and international sales, along with the finance function. During Mike’s tenure at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, the business has grown rapidly as the company has focused on building the Wonderful Brand it the US market and focusing resources on the major international markets of China, Europe and the Middle East. Ranjeet Wallia, President, Chi Commodities, Canada Ranjeet Wallia, Founder and President/CEO of CHI was introduced to the Nut trade in 1976 by Indian walnut and cashew exporters whilst studying in India. He joined Gibbs Nathaniel Canada in 1979 and then oversaw their UK operations from 1983 to 1987. For the last 35 years, CHI Commodities Handlers Inc. have supplied North American nut salters, confectioners, bakers, box stores and chocolatiers with nuts and dried fruits. They are amongst the top 10 importers of cashews to the USA and Canada. Ranjeet is the Canadian Ambassador of the INC, a strategic advisor to VINACAS, and a member of other industry associations. José Eduardo Mendes Camargo, Co-Founder and Director, QueenNut Macadamia, Brazil José Eduardo Mendes Camargo is Director and Shareholder of QueenNut Macadamia. He has been President of the Brazilian Macadamia Association and serves now as President of the Brazilian Nuts Association (Associação Brasileira de Nozes, Castanhas e Frutas Secas, ABNC) and as the Vice President of the São Paulo State Industries Federation (Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo, FIESP). QueenNut Macadamia has been a member of the INC for 23 years. Mr. Camargo is the Brazilian Ambassador of the INC since 2013. Toño Pons, President, Importaco, Spain Toño Pons is President of Importaco, an international food company specialized in the commercialization of nuts and mineral water. He holds a degree in Economic and Business Sciences from the University of Valencia, MBA from the Business Institute, ADECA Program in San Telmo. During his career at Importaco, he has held positions of Commercial Director and General Director of the nut and dried fruit business. Committed to excellence and quality, since his appointment as President in 2018, he is leading the plans to consolidate the growth of the company based on health, sustainability and specialization. Mirko Rybin, Senior Director Global Partner Management, Bösch Boden Spies, Germany Mirko Rybin started his career with a Degree in Foreign Trade 2001 working since 1998 in dried fruit and nut business in different roles. Since 2003 he works for Bösch Boden Spies leading the Dried Fruit and Nut Ingredient Sales Team as a Director from 2011 on. Since January of this year he is Senior Director Global Partner. He is responsible for the exclusive supply partners of Bösch Boden Spies together with his team on a strategic and operational level. Bösch Boden Spies is one of Europe&#39;s leading full-service B2B suppliers of high-quality ingredients for the European trade and food industry. Vittavat (Prince) Phonphaisan, Executive Vice President, Heritage Group, Thailand Vittavat (Prince) Phonphaisan is Executive Vice President at Heritage Group, Thailand’s leading premium natural food producer, wholesaler, and exporter of healthy food and beverages. Vittavat drives brand expansion across the globe, with the company exporting to over 60 countries. Winner of the Prestige Thailand&#39;s New Generation Entrepreneur Award, Vittavat was named one of Forbes Thailand&#39;s Thriving 30s in 2014. Overseeing Heritage Group&#39;s strategic manufacturing bases, in Thailand, China, and the US, Vittavat&#39;s mission is to offer products that improve health and wellbeing, while creating positive changes within the industry. Qi (Christina) Chen, VP and Director, ChaCha Food, China Qi (Christina) Chen is Vice President and Board Director at ChaCha Food. She has held a number of senior positions and has broad experience in fast moving consumer goods, E-commerce, and equity investment. Chacha Food Company, Ltd. is a food production company based out of Hefei, AH, China. The company’s main products include traditional roasted products, including sunflower seeds, and high-end nut products, among others. The company not only sells its products in provinces and cities across China, but also exports to nearly 50 countries and regions in Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States. Ms. Chen is a member of the Board of Trustees of the INC since 2019. Thanks to all our sponsors. The INC would like to say thank you to all of our sponsors for making this event possible and continuously supporting our industry!                        https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/speakers-for-the-inc-s-latest-webinar-are-confirmedINC’s Real Power for Real People Campaign Shows the “Real Power” of Nuts and Dried Fruits to Millions Around the WorldApril 22, 2021.  Launched on October 27, 2020, the Real Power for Real People messaging focused on the concept that consuming nuts and dried fruits provides your body with the “real power” needed to face everyday challenges and be immune to everything. The campaign will be expanded during 2021/2022 to reach new audiences and build on the Real Power for Real People concept.   The campaign’s main video, which encourages consumers to add nuts and dried fruits to their daily diet, received over 1,750,000 views on YouTube. The INC also partnered with 30 social media influencers from 17 countries around the world, utilizing their more than 7,000,000 combined followers to further spread the message. In total, influencer posts garnered over 1,500,000 interactions and the campaign’s hashtag #ShareYourNutfruitPower gained over 330 publications. Moreover, the INC developed a toolkit which enabled INC members to join in and share the Real Power for Real People concept in their own markets. Over 80 INC members signed up to help to spread the goodness of nuts and dried fruits. INC Executive Director, Goretti Guasch said of the campaign, “Immunity has been pushed to the forefront of all conversations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am thrilled to see the success this campaign has had in positioning nuts and dried fruits as a healthy option for consumers. We are looking forward to what next year will bring and how we can expand on this message.” Download the Press Release. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-s-real-power-for-real-people-campaign-shows-the-real-power-of-nuts-and-dried-fruits-to-millions-around-the-worldUSDA FAS 2020 US Agricultural Export YearbookAccording to this report, although the value of global tree nut exports from the US, which reached $8.4 billion in 2020, was down by 7% compared to 2019, tree nuts remained the third export commodity for US farmers.   Export value to China-mainland, India and Canada was increased by 23%, 11% and 6% from 2019, respectively. However, this was offset by lower sales to China Hong Kong (-61%), the United Arab Emirates (-30%), Turkey (-27%) and the European Union + the United Kingdom (-8%).   In spite of record crops putting downward pressure on unit values, particularly for almonds (the unit value of almonds dropped around 20%), disruptions due to retaliatory tariffs and restrictive phytosanitary requirements, US exports continue to dominate the global almond, pistachio and walnut markets and they are expected to maintain its share worldwide. Exports to India keep increasing due to strong consumer demand for almonds, and to a lesser extent, walnuts, while Central and South America are potentially growing markets. More information. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usda-fas-2020-us-agricultural-export-yearbookIranian Pistachio YTD Shipment ReportTotal monthly international shipments accounted for over 22,400 metric tons (open in-shell, closed shell, natural kernels, green peeled and split kernels and others), up 55% compared to 2019 crop year. Year-to-date exports have reached a peak of around 144,400 metric tons, the second highest since the record crop year of 2007. Considering a total production of 190,000 MT (in-shell basis), around 75% of the crop has already been shipped during the first half of the marketing year.   The Far East has been the largest market through March, accounting for 69,400 MT, almost three times over the previous year for the same period. Exports bounded for the Indian subcontinent were also increased by 64%, reaching 17,700 MT.   Although open in-shell pistachios account for around 80% of Iranian international exports, demand for natural kernel is increasing: year-to-date kernel shipments have reached 12,900 MT (in-shell equivalent), 41% above the previous 4 years average. More information. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/iranian-pistachio-ytd-shipment-reportMonitoring EU Agri-food Trade: Developments January-December 2020The European Commission has recently released its "Monitoring EU agri-food trade" analysis highlighting the latest statistics relating to EU trading relationships and product categories, and identifying notable developments. Results showed that, despite the difficult environment, from January to December 2020, the value of agri-food trade (exports + imports) reached €306.5 billion, 1% up from 2019.   In 2020 compared to 2019, the categories i) Fruit, fresh or dried (excluding citrus and tropical fruit) and ii) Preparations of vegetables, fruit or nuts reported gains of €491 million, 8.8% and €218 million, 6.4%, respectively.   One of the top origins, for which the value of EU27 agri-food imports increased in 2020, was Turkey (+€456 million, an 11% from 2019 - nuts and citrus fruits, preparations of vegetables and fruit). More information. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/monitoring-eu-agri-food-trade-developments-january-december-2020COVID-19 Update: April 21, 2021The COVID-19 pandemic continues with its rising trend. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global new cases have been rising for nearly two consecutive months, reaching a total of 141 million reported cases and causing more than 3 million deaths. India, the US and Brazil have experienced high caseloads, accounting for around 40% of last week’s total infections worldwide.   The vaccination efforts so far have allowed more than 900 million vaccine doses across 156 countries to be administered, with an estimated rate of 16.1 million jabs per day. So far, the number of doses given is enough to immunize around 5% of the global population. However, the distribution has been rather unequal, with the world’s wealthiest economies accounting for nearly 40% of the global vaccinations.   In a recent summit organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Vaccine equity is the challenge of our time”, however, the “dramatic” inequity in vaccine coverage, among others, have led to an alarming spike in new cases and deaths. Moreover, the WHO chief urged countries possessing large quantities of vaccines to make immediate donations to COVAX. UN In a recent speech at the Financing for Development (FfD) Forum, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said that “An enormous push at the highest political level” is needed to address the challenges posed by COVID-19. Mr. Guterres indicated that an equitable global response to recover from the pandemic was needed, such as closing the funding gap of the UN-backed vaccine initiative, COVAX, and actions aimed to address the debt crises. UNCTAD A recent publication by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that investment flows from the private sectors to developing and transition economies in sectors relevant for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fell by one-third in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Compared to developed economies, the decline in SDG-relevant investment was much larger in developing and transition economies, most notably in infrastructure development and in the food and agriculture sector. UNECE According to a press release published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on April 13, the UNECE Task Force set up under the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), has developed a set of key recommendations for green and healthy sustainable transport to assist Member States in the post-COVID-19 recovery. The recommendations range from supporting active mobility, by improving infrastructures and promoting activities such as cycling, to increasing investment for eco-friendly public transports. WHO In a recent press release, the WHO Chief Dr. Ghebreyesus reportedly said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “a long way from over”. The remark came after a further increase in infections worldwide was reported by the agency. However, the WHO Chief added that the pandemic could be brought under control in a few months with more consistent public health measures and a more equitable vaccination program.   Under the ongoing COVAX vaccination program, the WHO recently announced that more than 38 million doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccines have been transported globally so far. According to its latest supply forecast, COVAX expects to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines in 2021.   On April 12, the WHO and partners published an interim guidance with proposals for a ban on sales of live wild mammals in traditional food markets, also known as “wet markets”, in efforts to prevent the emergence of new deadly diseases, such as COVID-19.   In addition to halting sales of wild animals, the guidelines also call for governments to enforce stricter food safety, hygiene and environmental standards in traditional food markets to reduce transmission of zoonotic diseases.  WTO On April 12, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a call for proposals for this year’s Public Forum, “Trade beyond COVID-19: Building Resilience”, which is expected to be held from 28 to 30 September 2021. The Forum will revolve around the effects of the pandemic on trade and how countries can build resilience against future crises.   Following a recent meeting with the United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could only be achieved with equitable access to vaccines, especially in developing and least-developed countries. Australia Australia keeps maintaining a low number of new cases, thanks to rapid response to emerging new clusters of infections and strict quarantine measures imposed on arrivals. The country’s vaccination campaign, however, has recently suffered a setback due to the decision to restrict the inoculations of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 50 or more. The new recommendation followed after European regulators indicated the possibility of links between the AstraZeneca shot and reports of rare cases of blood clots. Moreover, last week the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that plans to provide at least one vaccine dose to all the country’s population by year-end will inevitably be postponed. Brazil The country is still reporting a very high number of new cases and record deaths, topping more than 4,000 casualties on April 10. According to a recent news release from Reuters, the populous state of Sao Paulo has warned that its healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing, due to shortages of medications and a very high occupancy rate of the hospital’s intensive care units.   Moreover, research conducted by the public health institute Fiocruz into the variants circulating in Brazil found that the P1 coronavirus variant (commonly known as the Brazil variant) is still mutating. The researchers believe this could make the virus more resistant to vaccines. China China is currently ramping up its vaccination efforts: according to Associated Press, the Government has recently announced that it’s aiming to reach the goal of vaccinating 560 million people by June.   On April 19, a news release published by Reuters reported that Chinese researchers are testing the mixing of COVID-19 vaccine doses with the aim of boosting their efficacy. Moreover, the Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino has recently announced it is starting clinical trials for a new COVID-19 vaccine that can be administered by inhalation.  EU On April 16, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly situation report. Based on the data collected by the agency, the 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was 464 per 100,000 population, slightly decreasing compared to last week. Hospitalizations have been increasing in most EU/EEA countries, while the mortality rate has been stable in the past six weeks. However, recent increases have been observed in nine countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Poland and Slovakia).   On April 9, the European Council approved additional funding from the EU budget, amounting to €121.5 million, to address urgent needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds, drawn from the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve, will support actions such as the development of new assays to better detect coronavirus variants and improved monitoring. These funds will also support preparatory work for digital green certificates to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.   On April 12, the European Commission announced its proposition to exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) goods and services made available by the European Commission, EU bodies and agencies to Member States and citizens during times of crisis.   “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that these kinds of crises are multifaceted and have a wide-ranging impact on our societies. A rapid and efficient response is essential, and we need to provide the best response now in order to prepare for the future. Today&#39;s proposal supports the EU&#39;s goal to react to crises and emergencies in the EU. It will also ensure that the financial impact of EU-level relief efforts to fight the pandemic and support the recovery is maximized,” said the EU Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni.   According to a recent press release, the European Council agreed on a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a Digital Green Certificate. This certificate would facilitate free movement during the pandemic by providing proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from the disease. Two legislations have been proposed, one concerning EU citizens, the other applying to third-country nationals legally staying or legally residing in the territory of a Member State. France Currently under lockdown, France reported an average of more than 30,000 daily infections last week. The country plans to vaccinate the majority of the adults by the end of summer. On April 9, the French national health authority announced that people below 55 who received their first AstraZeneca dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will receive a different vaccine for their second dose.   On April 14, Euronews reported that France has suspended all flights to and from Brazil, citing the decision to suspend as an attempt to limit the introduction of the Brazil coronavirus variant.  Germany On April 12, Germany surpassed 3 million reported COVID-19 cases. With more than 100,000 weekly new infections and high numbers of hospitalizations, the German Health Minister Jens Spahn recently urged federal states to impose further restrictions to try to slow down a third wave of the coronavirus.   Following the country’s decision to no longer offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged under 60, people in the younger age group who had already received a first AstraZeneca dose will be offered either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna jabs for their second dose. Italy According to Reuters, the Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza recently announced that the country will aim to vaccinate every person above 60 years of age by the end of June. The announcement was made after Italy suspended the inoculation of the newly received doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on April 14, following reports of blood clotting events in the US.  Netherlands On April 13, the number of COVID-19 vaccine jabs administered in the Netherlands reached 4 million. So far, more than 21% of the adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. New cases and deaths around the country are slowly falling compared to the last weeks, following a steep surge last March.   The Dutch Government recently announced it had suspended the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, pending the outcome of the European Medicine Agency’s (EMA) investigation.  Spain Following the Easter holidays, new COVID-19 cases are increasing in several of Spain’s autonomous communities. According to the latest Health Ministry report, the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 199, well above the “maximum risk” threshold set by the Government. In most communities, coronavirus restrictions are currently the same as before Easter (such as perimetral lockdowns and nighttime curfews).   Despite this, Spain’s vaccination program is ramping up: nearly all of the people aged over 80 have received at least one vaccine dose. Moreover, around 24% of people in the 60-to-79 age group have received at least one dose as well. Nearly 8% of the country’s population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  India With a record 200,000 new COVID-19 cases reported on April 14, India continues its upward trend in infections, bringing the total tally at 14 million. In New Delhi, weekend lockdowns allow only essential shops to be open, while in Mumbai a new set of lockdown measures determined the closure of most business, public spaces and curbs the movement of people for at least 15 days.   On April 19, New Delhi entered into a week-long lockdown, after reporting more than 25,000 new infections and 191 deaths in one day. According to the newspaper Die Welle, the measure is being introduced as hospitals in the Indian capital start to run out of beds and oxygen supplies.  Japan According to a recent press release, the governors of Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa have taken tougher measures in an attempt to curb a fresh surge of infections. The new measures, including shorter operating hours for the hospitality sector, should stay in place until May.  South Korea On April 12, South Korea announced that it plans to begin local production of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax in June. The government reportedly indicated it would support local production of coronavirus vaccines by providing Korean pharmaceutical companies 68.7 billion won ($61.1 million).  Turkey On April 14, Turkey entered into a two weeks “partial” lockdown, coinciding with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. The measures, imposed after a recent surge in new infections and deaths, include longer curfew hours, travel restrictions and restaurants being able to serve on a “takeaway” only basis.  United Kingdom Throughout March and most of April, UK’s COVID-19 daily cases have been staying well below 10,000. Nearly 40 million  AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine doses have already been administered. Since April 14, England also began the rollout of the Moderna jab, offering an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine for under-30s.  United States In the US, the 7-day average of new cases showed an increase of infections since the end of March. Hospitalizations have also been rising recently, with more than 45,000 patients in hospitals around the country. However, the vaccination campaign is rapidly progressing, with more than 23% of the population now fully vaccinated.   On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine following reports of a rare blood clotting disorder emerging in six women.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-april-21-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: April 14, 2021Europe and the Americas are leading this trend, and now the South East of Asia is reporting rapid growth in caseloads. Despite this, progresses in the vaccination campaigns in several countries, most notably in Israel, UAE and UK, have reduced new deaths and hospitalizations. In Europe, several countries –such as France and Germany– are seeing increases in new COVID-19 infections. While France is currently under a strict lockdown, the German government is considering a short, nationwide "bridge lockdown" aimed at easing the congestion on the country’s healthcare sector. On the other hand, the improving epidemiological situation in the UK allowed the country to begin the second phase of de-escalation of its coronavirus restrictions, with non-essential shops and outdoor hospitality venues being allowed to open to the public since April 12. With nearly 500,000 weekly new cases, Brazil continues to be the worst affected country in the Americas since the beginning of the month. The new wave of infections is severely impacting the nation’s hospitals, with intensive care units showing alarming occupancy rates. India is also experiencing a steep surge in new cases, with an all-time record of 168,000 new infections reported on April 12, overtaking Brazil as the second most affected country in the world. Both Mumbai and New Delhi are currently enforcing nighttime curfews, however, no other restrictions are currently in place and, with the ‘Kumbh Mela’ festival currently ongoing, mass gatherings are expected during the period. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-april-14-20212021 Call for Promotion and Dissemination Projects Now OpenWe are pleased to announce that the INC has launched the Call for Promotion and Dissemination Projects for 2021.   The goal of this grant is to fund promotion and dissemination projects aimed at building consumer demand for nuts or dried fruits, whenever such projects are beyond the scope of the INC, i.e. projects that the INC cannot fit within its regular activity, for instance due to language or geographic challenges.   Targeted projects: Activities that provide markets and consumers with information on the properties and qualities of nuts and dried fruits (e.g. marketing campaigns at points-of-sale, education campaigns at schools…). Market research and activities aimed at ensuring that buyers, consumers and health professionals know about nuts and dried fruits and their many positive features (e.g. participation in specialized events). Priorities: Promoting nuts and dried fruits use and consumption in markets where INC headquarters face barriers of entry, for instance due to language or geographic challenges. Projects to be undertaken in developing countries. Multi-collaborative projects and cooperation with INC members and industry-related partners. Project proposals aimed at disseminating the outcomes of the scientific findings that come from INC-funded research (annual Call for Research Projects) or new scientific findings that have been published in high-impact scientific journals. Supporting the development of innovative new products and marketing initiatives. The Evaluating Committee will judge favorably innovative proposals. Up to €100,000 is available for the 2021 Grant. INC will only accept one project per institution, and will fund a maximum of €50,000 per project/institution.   All projects must be submitted using the Application Form. Applications are due by May 7, 2021, 12:00 (noon) CEST. The Guidelines and Application Form are available online. For queries about this grant, please contact Ms. Irene Gironès at irene.girones@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/2021-call-for-promotion-and-dissemination-projects-now-openINC Hosts New Webinar on the State of the IndustryThrough the first few months of 2021, the INC has continued to organize virtual events for its members and give insights into some of the topics of interest for the industry. After successful webinars in February and March, the INC will be hosting a third webinar on April 26, 2021, at 4pm CEST. This webinar, titled “Industry Leaders’ Outlook for Nuts & Dried Fruits: A Year Since COVID-19”, will have expert opinions and you will want to be there for the discussion! Lasting a total of one hour, the webinar plans to cover the current state of the nut and dried fruit industry, the demand and prospect for products under the INC umbrella. The panel, consisting of industry leaders from the Americas, Europe, and Asia will analyze key changes that have been brought about as a result of COVID-19 and how these changes will affect the coming years and the future of the sector. Chairing the webinar is Mr. Michael Hohmann, Executive Vice President and CFO of Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, from the USA. Mr. Hohmann will be joined by the following panelists: Mr. Ranjeet Wallia, President, Chi Commodities, Canada Mr. José Eduardo Mendes Camargo, Co-Founder and Director, QueenNut Macadamia, Brazil Mr. Toño Pons, President, Importaco, Spain Mr. Mirko Rybin, Senior Director Global Partner Management, Bösch Boden Spies, Germany Mr. Vittavatt (Prince) Phonphaisan, Vice President, Heritage Snacks and Food, Thailand Ms. Qi (Christina) Chen, VP and Director, ChaCha Food, China Don’t miss out on the chance to gain a look into the nut and dried fruit sector! Register now! We hope you see you there on April 26, 2021 at 7am PDT | 4pm CEST | 7:30pm IST | 10pm HKT | April 27, 12am AEST. Thanks to all our sponsors. The INC would like to say thank you to all of our sponsors for making this event possible and continuously supporting our industry!                        https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-hosts-new-webinar-on-the-state-of-the-industryCOVID-19 Update: April 7, 2021The global vaccination campaign continues: more than 673 million doses have been administered at a rate of around 16 million doses per day. Chile, Israel, the UAE, UK and the US are leading the vaccination effort, successfully managing to deliver at least one dose to around half of their population.   On April 5, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message that the pandemic is highlighting growing inequalities among nations, also pointing out that the vast majority of vaccine doses administered so far have been confined to “a few wealthy countries”, or those producing the shots cleared for distribution.  UN On March 25, the United Nations (UN) published a report warning that COVID-19 could lead to a lost decade for development. The 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR) of the UN’s Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF) highlights that, due to the pandemic, around 114 million jobs have been lost and 120 million people have been plunged back into extreme poverty.   Moreover, the report says that immediate action is needed to address increasing global inequalities, with countries adopting measures such as reducing harmful tax competition and modernizing the labor market and fiscal policies. Additionally, the report also advocated for a global reporting framework to hold companies accountable for their social and environmental impact and incorporate climate risks into financial regulation.  UNECE The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is launching an online training course directed at Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the use of international standards. According to UNECE, International standards provide powerful tools for bolstering economic resilience, while enabling enterprises to improve their productive capacity.   Ms. Olga Algayerova, UNECE Executive Secretary, said: “As COVID-19 continues to spread, its disruptive impact is becoming more pronounced, posing unprecedented challenges for enterprises across the globe. The speed with which the pandemic-induced economic crisis unfolded took MSMEs by surprise, and many did not have crisis response plans. Others realized that their plans were simply too rigid. Standards can play a decisive role in the recovery. This self-paced training course helps MSMEs select and implement international standards that equip them with the required skill sets and production capacities to withstand a crisis and engage with transnational corporations.” UNESCO A recent study conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the number of children lacking basic reading skills amounted to 584 million. This increase −more than 20 percent compared to the previous year− wiped out two decades of education gains, the agency said.   Since the beginning of the pandemic, the complete or partial closures of schools worldwide have disrupted education efforts for an average of 25 weeks, says the report, with the highest learning losses projected to be in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and in Central and Southern Asia.    WHO The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent epidemiology update reported that new COVID-19 cases and deaths rose for a fifth consecutive week. All regions reported an increase in the number of cases this week, particularly in the Americas and European Regions, that continue to account for nearly 80% of all the cases and deaths.   In a recent joint statement, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the WHO  called on governments to prioritize seafarers and aircrew in their national COVID-19 vaccination programs. WTO On March 31, the World Trade Organization (WTO) published its revised forecast for the volume of world merchandise trade, now expected to increase by 8.0% in 2021. After falling by 5.3% in 2020, the WTO indicated that the rebound from the pandemic-induced collapse would eventually slow down in 2022 to 4.0%.   On a recent meeting of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, the WTO Secretariat provided updates on COVID-19 and SPS issues, reporting a total of 86 SPS notifications and other communications related to COVID-19 submitted by members. During the meeting, it was pointed out that assessments by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), WHO and other bodies found no evidence that food could be a source of COVID-19.  Australia COVID-19 cases in Australia have stayed relatively low, thanks to a series of snap lockdowns and effective tracking and testing systems. On April 1, the 3-day lockdown imposed over Queensland’s capital Brisbane ended, after only one new case was detected. Brazil With more than 500,000 new cases reported in the last 7 days, the epidemiological situation in Brazil is still concerning. To date, the country recorded around 13 million infections and more than 300,000 deaths since the pandemic began last year.   According to a recent publication by the New Scientist magazine, the Brazilian health system currently is being pressured by high numbers of hospitalizations, as well as a relatively slow vaccination rollout.   On March 30, Reuters reported that producer prices in Brazil rose in February at their fastest rate since 2014, further mounting pressure on the country’s economy. The increase was mainly driven by mining costs, however food price inflation contributed to more than a quarter of the overall rise. Chile Despite achieving high vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise for the past three weeks. The increase in numbers recently prompted the government to impose a new lockdown, affecting nearly 80% of the country’s population.   According to a news release published by the New York Times, on March 28 Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera asked the Congress to delay for five weeks the election of an assembly to write a new constitution. China According to a news release published by the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong will lift its entry ban on Chinese residents coming from the United Kingdom. Moreover, all travelers coming from “low-risk” countries (Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) will be able to enter the city for the first time in over a year.   Since April 1, COVID-19 restrictions were eased with pools and beaches allowed to reopen to the public. Entertainment venues, such as cinemas and amusement parks, will be allowed to fill up to 75% of capacity. EU On April 1, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly situation report. Based on the data collected by the agency, the 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was 434 per 100,000 population. The rate has been increasing throughout the month. The mortality rate has been stable in the past three weeks, however recent increases have been observed in nine countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Romania).   On March 26, the Regulation (EU) 2021/522, establishing the EU4Health program, entered into force. The program will make available around €5.1 billion to strengthen the resilience of health systems and promote innovation in the health sector. According to a press release published by the Commission, the funding will contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery.   On March 30, the European Commission reported that it had disbursed €13 billion to six EU Member States in the sixth installment of financial support, under the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). With the latest tranche of loans, 17 EU Member States have received a total of €75.5 billion −out of €100 billion− under the SURE instrument in back-to-back loans.   “The crisis is tough on many workers, who fear for their jobs. This is why we have created SURE, to mobilise €100 billion in loans to finance short-time work schemes across the EU. Today we are disbursing a new tranche of €13 billion under SURE, supporting workers and companies in six Member States. This helps protect jobs and enables economies to recover faster from the crisis,” said the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.   On March 31, the European Commission proposed €4.5 million, from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), to support tourism workers and self-employed in Estonia who lost their jobs as a consequence of COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, Estonia’s labor market has been heavily impacted. The unemployment rate increased significantly during 2020 to around 7%. In December 2020, some 49,000 people were unemployed in the country. France Since last year, France recorded more than 4.7 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 100,000 deaths. Since mid-March, the country has been experiencing a steep increase in new infections, topping more than 66,000 on April 5.   On March 31, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide lockdown. New restrictions include an overnight curfew, closure of all schools and non-essential shops, as well as a domestic travel ban between regions, unless motivated by an essential reason.  Italy Italy imposed a strict three-day lockdown over Easter, restricting travel and public gatherings. The country has been recording an average of 20,000 daily new cases since the beginning of March, bringing the overall caseload at more than 3.6 million. Although the 14-day case notification rate is slowly decreasing, hospitalization rates and overall pressure over the healthcare system are still elevated. Netherlands The Netherlands has halted the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under the age of 60 after five new cases of blood clots emerged, affecting women between 25 and 65 years of age. The move followed a previous decision by Germany to suspend inoculations to people under 60 on March 30.  Spain On March 31, the Spanish Government approved a series of new prevention measures such as making mask wearing mandatory in all public spaces across the country, regardless of the distance with others.  India In India, COVID-19 cases have been continuously increasing during the past month, from a few thousand per day to nearly 70,000 on March 29. Around 12 million cases and more than 160,000 deaths have been recorded, the third highest tally worldwide. The western state of Maharashtra accounted for most of the news cases.   On April 1, the country announced it will extend its vaccination program to people above 45. So far, around 64 million jabs have been administered.  Japan On April 1, the Japanese Government announced the imposition of emergency measures in the western region of Osaka following a surge in COVID-19 cases.   For the first time, the new measures will allow local leaders more freedom to enforce targeted measures in specific neighborhoods, towns and districts within their jurisdiction. The new restrictions include shorter business hours and a ban on large gatherings.  South Korea On March 26, South Korea extended its coronavirus distancing rules, as well as reduced business hours for the hospitality sector and ban on gatherings of five or more people. The measures are expected to stay in place for around two weeks. Turkey On March 28, Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll rose above 30,000. The country is currently experiencing a steep surge in new infections, with an all-time record of 37,000 cases recorded on March 31.   So far, Turkey has administered about 13 million vaccine doses. Nearly 8 million people have received a first shot and around 5 million a second dose of the vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech. United Kingdom According to data published by Public Health England (PHE), the United Kingdom keeps following a downturn trajectory in new cases and deaths. More than 30 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine so far, and around 4 million are fully vaccinated.   Since March 29, the step 1 of the government’s “roadmap out of lockdown” concluded with the end of the “stay at home rule”, thus allowing up to six people or two different households to meet outside.   On March 30, the Office of National Statistic (ONS) published a Coronavirus Infection Survey estimating that around 50% of UK’s population would have tested positive for antibodies against the coronavirus. According to the survey, recent data show a reduction in antibody positivity rates among older individuals, highlighting the positive effects of the vaccination campaign. United States According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall COVID-19 cases have decreased in the US for the past ten weeks. However, increases have been observed in the 7-day average of new cases. A news release recently published by Reuters reported that health officials have expressed concerns about the increase in travel around the Easter holiday and school spring breaks, at a time when more infectious variants of the coronavirus are circulating.   To date, around one in four Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at a ratio of more than 2.4 million doses administered every day. More than 46 million people have been fully vaccinated.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-april-7-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: March 31, 2021In the EU, high COVID-19 transmission rates have been reported in most countries. Several countries, such as Italy, Germany and Belgium, have imposed strict containment measures in an attempt to curb increasing infections. On March 26, the EU4Health initiative was approved by the European Commission. The program will make available funds up to €5.1 billion to increase the resilience of health systems and promote innovation in the health sector. According to a press release published by the Commission, the funding will contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, as well as supporting the fight against cross-border health threats and boosting the EU&#39;s preparedness and capability to respond effectively to future health crisis.   In the US, coronavirus cases are also increasing, however less steeply. Around 143 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to data recently published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, more than 52 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-march-31-2021Labeling Update: March 31, 2021New Protected Designation of Origin for Italian Pistachio “di Raffadali” On March 15, the European Commission authorized the protected geographical indication status for ‘Pistacchio di Raffadali’, a southern Italian pistachio variety cultivated in the region of Sicily. Regulation (EU) 2021/474 will enter into force on April 12, 2021.   The ‘Pistacchio di Raffadali’ denomination will be reserved for the product (in shell, shelled or peeled) of plants of the botanical species ‘Pistacia vera’, ‘Napoletana’ cultivar, also known as ‘Bianca’ or ‘Nostrana’, grafted on to ‘Pistacia terebinthus’, commonly known as ‘Scornabeccu’. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-update-march-31-2021Food Safety Update: March 31, 2021EU Proposed Levels of Cadmium in Nuts Notified to WTO On March 15, the European Commission submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) a draft regulation amending Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 regarding maximum levels of cadmium in certain foods.   The draft regulation sets the following maximum levels of cadmium (mg/kg wet weight): Tree nuts, except pine nuts: 0,20 Pine nuts: 0,30 Peanuts: 0,20 The WTO has set the deadline for comments by WTO members for May 14, 2021. Estimated date of adoption by the EU is June 2021. The Annex with the full list of foodstuff impacted by the regulation can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-march-31-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: March 31, 2021EU and US Temporally Suspend Tariffs Linked to the Airbus/Boeing Dispute As previously announced, on March 5, the EU and the US agreed to a 4-month suspension on all retaliatory tariffs placed during the longstanding dispute over aircraft subsidies. The suspension period was deemed necessary for the two sides to eventually negotiate a settlement agreement.   Reciprocal tariffs of around $7.5 and $4 billion on European and US exports were imposed during the last two years, impacting a wide range of products as well as foods such as peanuts and dates, among others.   Following the announcement, on March 11, the implementing acts were published, bringing into effect the suspension of the tariffs as from March 11, 2021, for a four-month period ending July 11, 2021.   The implementing act published by the EU can be found here.   The US’ implementing act can be found here. EU-US: Little Progress over Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs, Impact on Cranberries Trade According to recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products (FRUCOM), the ongoing dispute over the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs between the US and the EU has shown little signs of progress. The tariffs, imposed by the previous US President&#39;s administration, were met with retaliatory measures by the EU.   Under the EU Regulation 2018/886, from June 1, 2021, the EU will apply higher tariffs to US goods such as dried cranberries, unless a negotiated solution to the dispute is reached between the US and the EU before then. Presently, dried cranberries originating from the US are imported with 0% duty in application of tariff suspensions by the EU under a special scheme for US originating products of which there are limited alternative sources. From June 1, 2021, US cranberries could face a 25% import tariff under the Regulation, if there is a failure by the EU and the US to resolve the dispute. US: Biden Administration Releases 2021 President’s Trade Agenda On March 1, 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) delivered President Biden’s 2021 Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report to Congress. Some of the main priorities outlined by the Agenda are: Actions aimed to minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially by boosting the vaccination campaign and maintaining the supplies of medical equipment Promotion of equitable economic growth by including strong, enforceable labor standards in trade agreements that protect workers’ rights and increase economic security. Stimulating global market opportunities for American farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers. The full report can be viewed here.   A fact sheet outlining key highlights of the report is available here.  US: House Passes Farm Workforce Modernization Act On March 18, The House of Representatives approved H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The bill contains provisions related to foreign farmworkers, establishes the certified agricultural worker (CAW) status and changing the H-2A temporary worker program.   The bill makes various changes to the H-2A program, such as: modifying the method for calculating and making adjustments to the H-2A worker minimum wage, specifying how an employer may satisfy requirements that it attempted to recruit US workers, requiring H-2A employers to guarantee certain minimum work hours, making the program available for agricultural work that is not temporary or seasonal, and reserving a visa allocation for the dairy industry. The Act can be found here. UK Delays Customs Checks on EU Imports by Six More Months According to a news release published by Euractiv, on March 11 the UK Government will be delaying customs checks on imports from the EU and elsewhere by six months, to January 2022. The move, which is the second six-month delay made by the UK, should ease the burden on traders operating between the UK and the EU.   The EU instead has been imposing full customs checks at the border since January 1, 2021. The extension on checks followed a previous decision by the UK Government to extend the grace periods on customs checks for goods traveling to Northern Ireland, which caused the EU to start legal action over an alleged breach of the Northern Ireland Protocol. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-march-31-2021Pesticides Update: March 31, 2021MRLs Update, Imidacloprid In recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit, Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery Products (FRUCOM), the manufacturer of pesticide imidacloprid (Bayer) said it will not attempt to attempt to defend import tolerances for the neonicotinoid pesticide in the EU. According to Bayer, the European Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for imidacloprid are likely to expire by the end of 2022, and be replaced at the default level of the Limit of Quantification (LoQ), which is 0.01mg/kg.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-march-31-2021Sustainability Update: March 31, 2021European Green Deal: Commission Presents Actions to Boost Organic Production On March 25, the European Commission (EC) presented an action plan for the development of organic production, as part of the European Green Deal initiative. Its overall aim is to boost the production and consumption of organic products, to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.   Moreover, the Action Plan aims to improve organic farming&#39;s performance in terms of sustainability, with initiatives set to reduce the sector&#39;s carbon footprint, and minimizing the use of plastics, water and energy. Under the Plan, there will be an increase in the share of research and innovation (R&I) and around 30% of the budget for research and innovation actions in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural areas to topics specific to or relevant for the organic sector.   As per the EC communication to the Parliament, the area under organic farming has increased by almost 66% in the last 10 years –from 8.3 million hectares in 2009 to 13.8 million hectares in 2019. It currently accounts for 8.5% of the EU’s total ‘utilized agricultural area’. This increase has progressed along with a substantial increase in retail sales. These have doubled in value, from approximately €18 billion in 2010 to more than €41 billion in 2019. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/agricultural-quality-standards-update-march-31-2021Table Dates Production Progress Report Table Dates Production Progress Report According to industry sources, the overall production of dates has progressed in volume, as in previous years. The quality in some producing countries has decreased following certain climatic hazards but also a drop in orchard maintenance related to COVID-19.   Sales of table dates dropped down during Ramadhan 2020 and this decrease was accentuated during Christmas, mainly due to the pandemic: lockdown, curfew and other restriction measurements slowed down the sales. Moreover, importers and local traders faced some difficulties to forecast consumption and were not able to sign long-term contracts. The purchasing was therefore done step by step and the market is bearish. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/table-dates-crop-progress-reportDried Cranberries Production Progress Report Dried Cranberries Production Progress Report The 2020 cranberry crop finished at 11.6 million barrels up 3% from last year. However, an average crop based on current acres would be close to 13 million barrels. For the second-year weather-related issues throughout the growing season have affected supply. Fruit for production of dried cranberries remains very tight against demand and, as a result, pricing should remain firm though to new crop 2021. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/dried-cranberries-crop-progress-reportPrunes Production Progress Report US Prunes Production Progress Report According to the California Prune Board, steady shipments continued in both domestic and key export markets as consumers looked for nutritious, shelf-stable snacks and delectable ingredients to integrate into their home meals and bakery items. Although COVID-19 has presented challenges in the supply chain, it has also led to opportunities in the marketplace.   The robust sales environment, in combination with a shorter 2020 crop of approximately 45,000 MT, has helped to balance inventory and strengthen the outlook heading into the upcoming bloom of the 2021 crop. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/prunes-crop-progress-reportInternational Day of ForestsThis year the International Day of Forests, March 21, was celebrated under the theme "Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. To raise awareness of the importance of forests in sustainable development and human nutrition, the INC collaborated with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the creation of a short video documentary on wild nuts health properties and contribution to sustainable livelihoods.   The video is about how responsibly sourced nuts from sustainably managed forests and agroforestry can enrich our diets and contribute to our health and well-being.   Restoring forest ecosystems is key to mitigating the effects of climate change, halting biodiversity loss, and supporting the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. Nuts have been part of sustainable food systems since the dawn of time. They are a good example of ancient forest foods that have had a profound impact on global diets and cultures. Forest and tree nuts are vital for our healthy nutrition, well-being, biodiversity, and the livelihood of entire communities.    You can watch the 4-minute video, “Forests in a nutshell”, on YouTube. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/international-day-of-forestsBelgian Retailer Colruyt Introduces the Eco-Score Sustainability Label for Food ProductsThe Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt has introduced the rating system Eco-Score, to indicate the environmental impact of its food products labeled ‘Boni Selection’.   Eco-Score comes with a front-of-pack (FOP) label consisting of a color and a letter code, as well as a barcode that can be scanned by the Eco-Score app for fuller information. The score is calculated by combining two elements: Results of the life cycle analysis (‘from farm to fork’) of more than 2,500 product categories available in the Agribalyse database, developed by the French governmental agency ADEME (Agence de la transition écologique) Extra indicators, according to a bonus-malus system, such as food production methods, products impact on biodiversity and recyclability of the packaging. “People want simple, relevant information. They want to go beyond how healthy a product is and what its nutritional value is. Market research has shown that customers are also asking questions about the environmental impact of their products. It is up to us as retailers to help them, starting with our private label products,” said the responsible for the Eco-Score project at Colruyt Group, Stefan Goethaert, in a company’s press release. Main image source: Datagir https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/belgian-retailer-colruyt-introduces-the-eco-score-sustainability-label-for-food-productsCOVID-19 Update: March 24, 2021Despite this, a recent report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) forecasted that the global economy is set to grow by 4.7% this year thanks to a stronger-than-expected recovery in the United States, especially due to increased consumer spending and progress distributing COVID-19 vaccines.   At a recent media briefing, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that without a more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the global effort in reducing infections and deaths would be hindered. The WHO chief also urged countries to continue using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded its safety review following a series of reports in several EU countries of major side effects, reportedly linked to the vaccine. OECD According to the latest Economic Outlook published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the global economy is experiencing a moment of recovery, as activity in many sectors has picked up and partially adapted to pandemic restrictions. Global economic prospects have improved over recent months with signs of a rebound in goods trade and industrial production.   Thanks to these factors, the global GDP growth is now projected to be 5.6% this year. World output is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021, however, this estimation is dependent on the speed and efficacy of the global vaccination rollout, the report concludes.  WHO The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent epidemiology update reported a new rise in global cases, up 10% compared to the previous week. The Americas and Europe continue to account for over 80% of new cases and deaths, with rises in new cases seen in all regions. The highest numbers of new cases were reported from Brazil, the US, France, Italy and notably in India, where a 30% increase in new cases was reported.   On March 12, the WHO listed the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) for emergency use in all countries and for COVAX roll-out. The decision came following the recent authorization of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The vaccine from Janssen is the first to be listed by WHO as a single dose regimen, which should facilitate vaccination logistics in all countries.   “Every new, safe and effective tool against COVID-19 is another step closer to controlling the pandemic,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Adhanom. WTO According to the latest update of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Services Trade Barometer, the index has risen sharply to 104.7, above the baseline value of 100 and well above the low point of 91.2 earlier in the pandemic. This suggests that world services trade growth accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2020.   The outlook for 2021, however, is uncertain as continuing lockdown measures in response to surges in COVID-19 infections have continued to weigh on growth and employment in major economies since the start of the year. This is due to lower performing indices such as a persistent weakness in air transport (81.0). In contrast, other component indices have all risen above the trend, including container shipping (104.3) and construction (106.3).  Australia Australia has reported over 29,000 cases and around 900 deaths since the pandemic began. The relatively low numbers are helped by international border closures, lockdowns and strict social-distancing rules.   On March 14, the Australian Government announced that more than AU$1.1 billion will be made available to extend the national COVID-19 health response and suppression strategy until December 31, 2021. The additional funding will be used to support programs such as testing and tracing, and telehealth services.   Moreover, a news article published by Reuters reported that the government recently unveiled a AU$1.2 billion ($928 million) tourism support package, aimed at boosting local travel while international routes remain closed because of the pandemic. Brazil On March 16, Brazil’s Health Ministry reported more than 2,800 deaths in a single day, which is the highest daily total since the pandemic began one year ago. Additionally, 83,926 new COVID-19 cases were reported, bringing the total caseload to more than 11 million.   Last week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced the appointment of cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga as Health Minister. Dr. Queiroga is replacing Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who has led the ministry since May 16, 2020. Chile According to Chile’s Health Ministry, more than 5 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Despite this, a recent surge in cases prompted the government to approve stricter containment measures on March 11. Under the new restrictions, the Santiago metropolitan region, which is home to 40% of the nation’s population, will be under strict weekend quarantines, with night curfews and non-essential shops being forced to close. China On March 16, Associated Press reported that China has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. It is the fifth coronavirus vaccine approved in China and the fourth to be given emergency use approval.   According to the Chinese Embassy in the UK, facilitations for visa applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China, and obtained the vaccination certificate, will allow foreigners to apply for visas to enter the country. EU On March 18, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly situation report. Based on the data collected by the agency, the 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was 381 per 100,000 population. The rate has been increasing for the last three weeks. Pressure on the healthcare systems in 15 countries has been increasing too. The mortality rate, however, has been stable in the past two weeks, with decreases observed in most countries.   On March 11, the European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorization (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, and the fourth COVID-19 vaccine authorized in the EU. This authorization follows a positive scientific recommendation based on an assessment of the safety, effectiveness and quality of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and is endorsed by the Member States.   The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: "The Janssen vaccine is the fourth authorized vaccine of the EU&#39;s portfolio and will help us enhance the vaccination campaign in the second quarter of 2021. It only requires a single dose, which takes us another step closer to achieving our collective goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of summer".   On the same day, the Commission proposed a package of almost €530 million in additional financial support under the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF), aimed to safeguard the public health of 17 Member States, as well as Albania, Serbia and Montenegro. The funding is meant to support part of public expenditure on medical and personal protective equipment, emergency support to the population, and measures of prevention, monitoring and control of the spread of COVID-19.   On March 16, the European Commission disbursed €9 billion to seven EU Member States in the fifth installment of financial support under the Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) program. These loans aim to assist Member States in addressing sudden increases in public expenditure due to the countries’ efforts to preserve employment. Belgium On March 22, the news agency Euractiv reported that the Belgian government has extended the country’s travel ban until April 18. Belgium is currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, with a rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people. The reproduction rate is being calculated at 1.13, which means that the pandemic is currently expanding in the country. Bulgaria Following two weeks increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the country has entered into a 10-day lockdown on March 22. “The aim of the measures is to control the epidemic without coming back to the bad memories of October and November,” reportedly said Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kostadin Angelov.  Estonia On March 18, Estonia entered into a month-long lockdown in which non-essential shops, schools and hospitality venues are closed. The country is currently facing a large surge of infections due to the spreading of the reportedly more contagious UK variant of the virus. France According to Euronews, on March 11, France’s Foreign Minister announced that the country would relax its travel restrictions to and from seven non-EU countries. People traveling to and from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore will be able to do so without the need to prove a compelling reason. However, travelers will still need to present a negative PCR test conducted less than 72 hours before departure.   On March 19, the Paris area and other 16 regions started a month-long lockdown aimed to curb a recent surge in infections. Non-essential shop closures and movement outside is restricted in the affected regions, however, schools will stay open. Germany On March 16, the news agency Deutsche Welle reported that according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI), COVID-19 cases are growing again. The country had just started erasing the restrictions two weeks ago, allowing non-essential shops to reopen.   Due to the current increase in infection rates, on March 22, the German Government announced that the ongoing lockdown would be extended until April 18, along with further restrictions imposed during the Easter week. Italy In the past two weeks, Italy has registered more than 20,000 new daily infections, bringing the total to more than 3 million confirmed cases. The country recently surpassed 100,000 total fatalities due to COVID-19, which is the second-highest tally in Europe after the UK.   Since March 15, new restrictions were imposed on 10 Italian regions where COVID-19 cases have been steadily increasing. In the so-called “red areas”, schools, shops and restaurants are closed and residents, who account for more than 60% of the country’s population, will be required to stay at home except for work, health or other essential reasons. Poland Poland has been experiencing a steep surge in COVID-19 infections during the last two weeks, bringing the total to around 2 million confirmed cases. On March 20, new restrictions were imposed such as the closure of all non-essential activities and most schools. These measures would stay in place until at least April 9. As of today, there are no plans on restricting movement. Spain After the third wave of infections observed throughout January, Spain’s epidemiological situation has been steadily improving in the last few weeks. The 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is currently below 130.   However, during the government’s last press conference, Fernando Simón, Director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), pointed at the fact that the rate at which new coronavirus infections are falling has stabilized. A recent article from the newspaper El País reported that health experts are urging authorities to maintain the current restriction measures to avoid a fourth wave, especially during the Easter period.  India India is currently experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases, particularly due to a large surge of infections in the western state of Maharashtra. The country has so far recorded more than 11 million cases and nearly 160,000 victims, the third-highest worldwide.   On March 15, the Nagpur district in Maharashtra entered into a lockdown for the first time since nationwide curbs were lifted in June.  Japan On March 22, the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency over Tokyo metropolitan area, which was in place since last January. Leisure and hospitality venues will be able to open for longer times during the day and parks are open to the public, although officials are urging citizens to avoid holding cherry blossom-viewing parties.   Despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions, Japan is maintaining the country’s entry ban on nonresident foreign nationals due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus variants. Residents in Japan will be allowed to enter the country after submitting a negative COVID-19 test and subsequently self-isolate for 14 days. Turkey According to the latest data published by WHO, Turkey is currently facing a surge of COVID-19 infections. The country’s total number of cases is now risen to more than 3 million, with nearly 30,000 deaths.   The country started its vaccination campaign last January. To date, around 11 million doses of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine have been administered, with more than 8 million people vaccinated so far.  United Kingdom According to the latest figures published by Public Health England (PHE), the country registered around 5,000 new daily cases on March 22, bringing the total to around 4 million. Hospitalizations and deaths are falling too since the beginning of the month.   On March 20, the UK Government published a press release reporting that around half of all adults in the UK have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. UK health services vaccinated a total of 26.8 million people between December 8 and March 19 with first doses, while 2.1 million people have had their second dose so far. United States The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) latest weekly review reported that COVID-19 cases have decreased in the US for the past nine weeks. Moreover, around one in five Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at a ratio of more than 2 million doses administered every day. The country recently passed the target of 100 million vaccine jabs, and several states started loosening travel restrictions.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-march-24-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: March 17, 2021From that moment, governments all around the world started implementing restriction rules, travel bans and lockdowns aiming to curb the surge of the new, deadly disease. These measures keep having a profound effect over economies and people’s lives. A year after, COVID-19 has infected more than 118 million people and caused over 2.6 million victims around the world. Transmission of the virus is still widespread, especially in Europe, Africa and Middle East. Furthermore, the continuous spreading of reportedly more contagious COVID-19 mutations keep pressuring global healthcare systems, thus prolonging the countries’ restrictive measures. By the end of 2020, new coronavirus vaccines were developed and a global vaccination campaign started. To date, more than 300 million doses were administered worldwide, with the US, UK, Israel and Chile leading the immunization effort. New vaccines are being developed such as the single-shot vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, recently being approved for emergency use by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) under the COVAX program. Moreover, large economic relief measures –to contrast the negative effect of the COVID-19 restrictions– were recently approved such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) in the EU and the newly ratified $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in the US. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-march-17-2021Brazil Nuts Crop Progress Report Brazil Nuts Crop Progress Report Over 2020, like the rest of the world, South America has also faced the global pandemic. For the Brazil nuts industry, this meant the starting and stopping of production, which affected yields. Falling prices through the year resulted in all factories ending up losing money as they were forced to cover raw material at the start of the crop when prices are higher. Port difficulties, with lack of containers and vessels missing port, were also worsen last year. And all of this amidst political turmoil in Bolivia as the government changed twice from an interim government followed back to the original party after a second election.   While volumes exported started low and had months well below average, bumper months in September, October & November pushed exports level back to normal. Total exports from South America in 2020 added up to around 31,000 metric tons (Bolivia, 77%, Peru, 13% and Brazil, 10%); up by 10% from 2019. The total value though was fairly below the last years’ average.   By the beginning of 2021, carryover was short as yields were lower than what factories had anticipated. Raw material started to be negotiated at levels above the ending export price of 2020. Initially, exporters pushed back but intervention with the assistance of the government eventually set pricing at that higher level. Thus, exporters who had made a few speculative sales of 2021 withdrew from the market to cover that material as raw material no longer supported that price.   Going forward, shippers are likely to stay withdrawn until more raw material flows from the forest to the factories. Some markets for Brazil nuts are well covered already, but the smaller users, who buy every few months, are not. Smaller shippers, who buy material and then sell against the raw material replacement price, may start to push up the export prices with buyers who are in need of stock and, in turn, will start paying higher prices for raw material. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brazil-nuts-crop-progress-reportMacadamias Crop Forecast Report Australia Macadamia Crop Forecast Report As reported by the Australian Macadamia Society, weather conditions have been favorable with the majority of regions receiving good rains over December and early January. While some varieties are performing better than others, overall early indications for the 2021 crop are positive. Given the favorable conditions combined with new plantings coming into bearing, the 2021 crop is predicted to reach 50,770 MT in-shell at 3.5% NIS moisture content, based on a model developed by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.   The final crop forecast for the 2020 season is 46,900 MT in-shell. Orchards weathered the drought conditions well in 2020, proving how naturally resilient these native trees are. Sustained investment by growers in orchard floor management continues, which is integral to managing soil moisture. South Africa Macadamia Crop Forecast Report According to Macadamias South Africa, the 2020 crop added up to 48,925 metric tons in-shell at 1.5 % kernel moisture content, down 17% from 2019. As previously reported, adverse conditions during flowering and early nut development, mature orchards, pruning (or the lack thereof) and insects and diseases played a role in the decline of the 2020 macadamia crop. Crop 2021 is anticipated to be similar to 2020. Tropical storm Eloise is not expected to have a major impact on yields and rainfall in the major producing areas might favor nut development and yields. Kenya Macadamia Crop Forecast Report As per the Nut Processors Association of Kenya, the 2020 crop is likely to close at 39,750 MT, at 10% NIS moisture content/37,000 MT NIS 3.5 m.c, 7% above 2019 closing of 37,200 MT/34,700 MT. The precipitation and sunshine were good and the quality of nuts is expected to be better than last year. Based on the recent year&#39;s plantings and with new trees coming to fruition every year, crop 2021 is projected to reach 45,300 MT/42,250 MT.   Kernel sales have been slower than the previous year owing to COVID-19 market disruptions. The closing inventories for 2019 have cleared and the industry is looking forward to a market resurgence in early 2021 to take any carryover stocks. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/macadamias-crop-forecast-reportPecans Crop Progress Report North America Pecans Crop Progress Report On January 21, 2021, the USDA released their 2020 preliminary crop production forecast projecting a final crop of 137,145 metric tons (302.4 million pounds) in-shell basis, slightly below their December estimate but 18% higher than 2019. Conversely, the Mexican Government&#39;s final crop is estimated at 164,308 MT (362.2 million pounds), approximately 4% lower than 2019. North American total supply is up 5.7% over the same period a year ago. However, quality issues in Mexico have resulted in shortages in key supply segments, specifically Fancy Mammoth Halves, Fancy Jr. Mammoth Halves and Fancy Extra Large/Large Pieces.   Shipments continue to be robust, both domestically and internationally. With increased interest from China and the EU, overall US pecan exports are up 7.6%. In-shell shipments to China are up 72% over 2019 levels. Mexican exports, while holding relatively steady to China, are down approximately 24% to the US primarily due to quality issues. With the highest production levels in Georgia since 2012, even major Mexican shellers have turned to Georgia to procure good quality low count in-shell. As such, prices have started to firm for the first time in four years. Although there is still a considerable price gap between pieces and halves, piece prices have also started to climb. With most major buyers having already booked at lower levels, consumption is expected to continue to be good for the remainder of 2021. South Africa Pecans Crop Progress Report The high tariffs put on the USA pecans into China (47%) along with the overall drop in prices benefited the South African pecan industry, with many buyers shifting to South African products. Estimated sales to China were +-90% of the crop, leaving little for the local market or other marketing options.   The 2021 harvest is expected to be between 22,000 and 24,000 MT, depending on the first semester climatic conditions. Brazil Pecan Crop Progress Report Season 2020/21 is expected to be an on-year. In spite of below-average rainfall in some regions, spring and summer conditions are pointing to a good harvest: there were no rain disruptions during flowering, which was abundant, and fruits were developing well. Australia Pecan Crop Progress Report Consumption of the domestic crop is primarily within Australia and New Zealand, and as the crop volume contracted last season as a consequence of continued drought, this concentration was further extended. Exports of both pecan in-shell and kernels are down. China Pecan Crop Progress Report Due to new plantings coming into production, the 2020 production ended up much larger than anticipated. Expansion of the planted area is expected to continue in the coming years. Although in-shell market still prevails, kernel demand is growing in seasonal sales such as the Moon Festival and the Chinese New Year. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pecans-crop-progress-reportEU and US Agree to Temporally Suspend All Tariffs Linked to the Airbus and Boeing DisputesThe suspension period was deemed necessary for the two sides to eventually negotiate a settlement agreement. Reciprocal tariffs of around $7.5 and $4 billion on European and US exports were imposed during the last two years, impacting a wide range of products as well as foods such as peanuts and dates, among others.   According to a press release published by the European Commission, Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said: “This is a significant step forward. It marks a reset in our relationship with our biggest and economically most important partner. Removing these tariffs is a win-win for both sides, at a time when the pandemic is hurting our workers and our economies. This suspension will help restore confidence and trust, and therefore give us the space to come to a comprehensive and long-lasting negotiated solution. A positive EU-U.S. trade relationship is important not only to the two sides but to global trade at large.” https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-and-us-agree-to-temporally-suspend-all-tariffs-linked-to-the-airbus-and-boeing-disputesCOVID-19 Update: March 10, 2021According to a recent Economic Impact Analysis presented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last year the world passenger traffic fell by 2.7 billion passengers, or by 60% compared to 2019, causing a $ 371 billion loss of gross passenger operating revenues of airlines.   Travel restrictions are also having a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of transport workers, most notably in the maritime sector. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), around 400,000 seafarers have incessantly been working on board commercial vessels, long past the expiry of their contracts but unable to be repatriated due to many countries’ restrictions. WHO The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent epidemiology update reported that over 2.6 million new cases were detected in the last 7 days, a 7% increase compared to the previous week, following six consecutive weeks of declining numbers. The global case increase was driven by increases in the Eastern Mediterranean (14%), South-East Asia (9%), Europe (9%) and the Americas (6%). The U.S., Brazil, France, Italy and India were the countries that reported the highest number of cases.   As the global rollout of COVAX vaccines accelerates, the first COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa started on March 1. The African states of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire received deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Côte d’Ivoire 504,000 doses two days later. The vaccine, branded COVISHIELD, was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization on February 15. UN Schools for more than 168 million children worldwide have been completely closed for almost an entire year due to COVID-19 lockdowns, according to new data released on March 2 by UNICEF. Furthermore, around 214 million children globally have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning.   The report notes that 14 countries worldwide have remained largely closed from March 2020 to February 2021. Two-thirds of those countries are in Latin America and the Caribbean, affecting nearly 98 million schoolchildren.   “As we approach the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are again reminded of the catastrophic education emergency worldwide lockdowns have created. With every day that goes by, children unable to access in-person schooling fall further and further behind, with the most marginalized paying the heaviest price,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. Australia Australia&#39;s rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine began on March 5. According to the Australian news agency ABC News, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 300,000 doses of the vaccine, which arrived in Sydney on Sunday, have now been "batch-tested" and approved for use. Mr. Morrison said the first overseas-manufactured doses of the jab would be followed by 50 million doses made in Melbourne.   AstraZeneca is the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Australia, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) gave the green light to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in January 2021. Brazil Since the beginning of the pandemic Brazil’s death toll has surpassed 260,000, which constitutes the world’s second-worst after the United States. Daily new COVID-19 cases are currently around 60,000. Coupled with a spike in deaths, the numbers prompted Sao Paulo state Governor João Doria to announce a partial lockdown in Brazil’s most-populous state on March 3. Sao Paulo’s bars and restaurants will operate only via delivery, while malls and non-essential businesses being shut. The restriction measures are due to last two weeks.   On the same day, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said he was close to an agreement with Pfizer to buy 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as doses from Janssen, the pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. China With COVID-19 outbreaks largely contained, China was reported to have set the annual economic growth target at above 6%, and pledged to create more jobs in cities compared to last year.   According to Reuters, China’s conservative growth target reflects a public effort to demonstrate a return to economic stability after last year’s COVID-19 upheaval, while also trying to contain the government’s budget deficit. EU On March 4, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its latest weekly situation report, indicating that 21 countries in the EU/EEA observed increasing COVID-19 cases. Moreover, nine countries reported increasing hospital pressure and five countries reported increasing death rates. The report points out that the overall indicators of the pandemic suggest that the transmission is still widespread. The 14-day case notification rate for the EU/EEA was found to be 311 per 100,000 population.   On March 3, the European Commission has adopted a communication providing Member States with broad guidance on the conduct of fiscal policy adopted in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Communication provides guidelines for the setting of fiscal measures, including the implications of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for fiscal policy.   The RRF will make €312.5 billion available in grants and up to €360 billion available in loans to Member States to support the implementation of reforms and investments. According to the Commission, the RRF will provide an important fiscal stimulus aimed to promote investments, especially in the most affected EU countries. Austria As reported by the German newspaper Deutsche Welle, Austria will be given an additional 100,000 BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine doses as part of an EU initiative to curb an outbreak of coronavirus, particularly affecting the Tyrol region.   The Alpine region of Tyrol, with a total population of about 80,000, has one of Europe&#39;s highest incidences of the South African COVID-19 strain, which is deemed to be more contagious. Every adult resident of the province will be offered the vaccination, with the process due to start this week. Czech Republic As of March 1, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health has placed Spain, Portugal, and Madeira on the red list of countries where the Coronavirus pandemic is widely spread. All persons returning from the COVID-19 red list will be obliged to fill a form and present negative result of an Antigen or PCR test, not older than 24 hours for the Antigen test, or 72 hours for the PCR, prior to entering the country. France On March 1, the news network Euronews reported that the French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, said that the AstraZeneca jab has now been approved for people aged 65-74 with "co-morbidities". However, people over 75 will continue to receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines.   Also, according to the same news agency, the government endorsed a recommendation from France’s High Authority for Health (HAS) for people who have previously contracted COVID-19 to receive a single dose of the vaccine, aimed to boost the immune system’s response against potential coronavirus reinfections. Germany On March 3, the news agency Reuters reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel and German state leaders agreed to a five-stages plan aimed to ease the country’s coronavirus restrictions, along with an “emergency brake” to let authorities reimpose restrictions if COVID-19 cases rapidly surge again.   Under the proposed plan, up to five people from two households will be allowed to meet from March 8. Later stages will see the opening of restaurants and entertainment venues for people who can present a recent negative test result. Finally, open-air events with up to 50 people will be allowed, as well as contact sports indoors.   Moreover, the government accepted a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to extend the interval between the injection of first and second doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines three weeks apart, and AstraZeneca’s up to 12 weeks apart.   According to a recent news press, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control has now classified France’s Moselle region as an area “at particularly high risk of infection due to widespread occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 virus variants”.   Since March 2, travelers coming from Moselle will need to show a negative coronavirus test that is less than 48 hours old. Similar border controls have already been introduced at the country’s land borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region. Italy The Italian Health Ministry has recently published a situation report indicating that the COVID-19 7-day incidence is currently at 195 cases per 100,000. The increased caseload has prompted the Italian Health Minister to approve an ordinance, which came into force on March 8, strengthening the current restriction measures currently in place in many Italian regions.   The northern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and Emilia Romagna have been placed in the second highest degree of alert with increased restrictions on movements, thus joining most of Italy’s 20 regions, while the region of Campania is now classified as “red zone”, where full lockdown rules apply.  The Netherlands With a coronavirus reproduction number above 1, Netherlands has seen the total COVID-19 cases increasing in the past weeks, albeit at a slower pace.   Since March 3, the government has begun relaxing its lockdown restrictions, such as reopening of non-essential shops and allowing outdoor sports activities. The general lockdown rules like curfews and travel bans will remain in place for the time being. Spain The Health Ministry’s latest data on the ongoing coronavirus crisis shows that the 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants has fallen to 127. This incidence level was last seen in August 2020. Daily coronavirus-related deaths have also been dropping below 200 for the first time in 2021.   Moreover, a recent report from Spain’s Health Ministry showed that more than 1.3 million people have been fully vaccinated so far. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, the data in the ministry report leads to the conclusion that more than 85% of Spain’s care home residents have now been fully vaccinated. India India began its vaccination campaign on January 16, starting with healthcare workers and frontline staff. Now, people over 60, as well as those who are between 45 and 59 but with co-morbidities will start receiving COVID-19 vaccines. On March 1, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is 70, received the first dose of the locally produced Covaxin.   Since the pandemic began, India has confirmed more than 11 million cases and over 157,000 deaths. India has seen a steady decrease in daily infections to less than 20,000 from a peak of over 90,000 back to September 2020, although some states have recently reported a new increase in the number of cases. Iran According to the Iranian newspaper Teheran Times, Mohammad Hassan Zibakhsh, the spokesman of Iran&#39;s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO), announced on February 28 that all flights to and from 32 countries have been suspended due to the latest decision of the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control.   Earlier in February, the Iranian Government reduced the validity of negative COVID-19 PCR test results from 96 hours to 72 hours for all passengers transiting the country’s airports. Due to the travel restrictions, foreign travelers to Iran will need to quarantine upon arrival in government-designated areas, while Iranian citizens will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Japan According to a press release published by the Japan Times on March 3, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga extended the country’s state of emergency by around two weeks for the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.   Despite a steady decline in cases since last January, the decision came after the governors of the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama voiced their concerns that new cases are not declining fast enough to safely lift the country’s state of emergency. Turkey Turkey’s coronavirus cases passed 2.7 million, with a death toll of more than 28,000 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic. However, since last month new contagions have been slowing down. On March 1, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said that weekend curfews, in place since last December, will be lifted in low- and medium-risk provinces, while restrictions will continue “for a while” in provinces classified as high or very high risk.   According to the WHO, Turkey has so far administered more than 9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with nearly 1 in 10 people vaccinated. United Kingdom On March 1, Public Health England (PHE) submitted a pre-print of a real-world study that shows that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among older people aged 70 years and over. According to the research, protection against symptomatic manifestations of the illness, 4 weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57 and 61% for one dose of Pfizer and between 60 and 73% for the AstraZeneca vaccine.   In a press release from the UK government, authorized COVID-19 vaccines that are modified in response to new variants will receive a “fast-track” approval. The decision follows the publication of a new guidance from the ACCESS Consortium –a coalition of regulatory authorities from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland.  The guidance, developed by the UK Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and its ACCESS partners, lays out what information regulators would need to approve any modifications to authorized COVID-19 vaccines, should virus mutations make them less effective at preventing the disease.   United States According to a recent article published by Associated Press, President Joe Biden said the US expects to receive enough coronavirus vaccine doses for all adults by the end of May. The US President is also pushing for a swift vaccination campaign aiming to vaccinate the majority of teachers, so to quickly reopen the country’s schools.   COVID-19 cases in the US have been steadily decreasing in the past six weeks, while more than 82 million vaccine doses have been administered. However, the active cases are still much higher than what was seen during the first peak in the pandemic back in March 2020.   On March 6, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill recently proposed by the US President. The legislation includes funding for vaccines and medical supplies, extends jobless assistance and provides a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-march-10-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: March 2, 2021Since the beginning of 2021, all the major economies are ramping up their vaccination campaigns, pinning their hopes of a swift recovery on the success of the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines. Recent researches conducted in UK and Israel suggested that the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are effective in protecting against symptomatic infections. Moreover, in a briefing published by last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective, potentially paving the way for its approval for emergency use. Johnson & Johnson has agreed to provide the US with 100 million doses by the end of June. The UK, EU and Canada have also ordered doses and 500 million doses have also been ordered through the COVAX scheme to supply poorer nations.   At a recent virtual meeting, the G7 leaders pledged to spend over $4.3 billion to develop and distribute effective tests, treatments, and vaccines around the world. Canada, France, Norway and the European Union further committed to donating additional vaccine doses with developing countries, so to increase the volume of vaccines available worldwide and support rapid reduction of virus transmission amongst some of the world’s most vulnerable and exposed populations. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-march-2-2021Promotions Update: March 2021USDA Amends California Walnut Marketing Order The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on February 12, 2021, amendments to the federal marketing order regulating the handling of walnuts grown in California. These amendments authorize the California Walnut Board to provide credit for market promotion expenses paid by handlers against their annual assessments due under the program. The amendments were approved in a referendum conducted November 30 through December 11, 2020. They were favored by 80.57% of the growers voting, representing 82.81% of the total volume of walnuts. To gain approval, the amendments needed support of at least two-thirds of the growers voting in the referendum or at least two-thirds of the volume of walnuts grown by those voting in the referendum. A final rule amending the marketing order will be published in the Federal Register.   As per the California Walnut Board, this authority will allow handlers to receive a credit-back for eligible marketing expenditures of 70 cents for every dollar spent.   More details can be found here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/promotions-update-march-2021Nutrition Update: March 2021US FDA Guidance, Alternate Name for Potassium Chloride The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final guidance, Use of an Alternate Name for Potassium Chloride in Food Labeling, to advise food manufacturers of their intent to exercise enforcement discretion for declaration of the name “potassium salt” in the ingredient statement on food labels as an alternative to the common or usual name “potassium chloride”.   This guidance is part of the FDA&#39;s Nutrition Innovation Strategy to reduce the burden of chronic disease in the US through improved nutrition, and by making sure consumers are informed.   More information. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/nutrition-update-march-2021Labeling Update: March 2021Australia and New Zealand: Allergen Labeling in Plain English —Changes to Code Approved Certain foods and ingredients can cause severe allergic and other adverse reactions in some people. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) requires these to be declared on labels when they are present in food. As it currently stands, the Code requires the 11 known foods and ingredients that can cause severe allergic reactions to be declared on labels when they are present in food. But until now there were no requirements on how these declarations must be made.   On February 25, 2021, the Code was amended to introduce new requirements for the labeling of allergens in food. These requirements include that allergen information is to be declared: in a specific format and location on food labels using simple, plain English terms in bold font. The P1044 —Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL) has been designed to make allergen labeling more transparent and consistent on Australian food packaging. Under this regulation, the allergens must be stated using mandatory specified terms in bold font and the allergen label must also follow specified guidelines regarding the format, wording and location of the declaration.   Businesses have been given three years from February 25, 2021, to implement the new requirements. During this transition period, food businesses can comply with either the existing allergen declaration requirements in the Code, or the new requirements. A two-year stock-in-trade period will follow the transition period. Any food packaged and labeled with existing allergen declarations before the end of the transition period may be sold for up to two years after the end of the transition period. EFSA’s Scientific Advice on FOP Labeling Expected by March 2022 According to the action plan for the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission intends to submit, by the end of 2022, a proposal for harmonized mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling and for the setting of nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion of food high in, for example, salt, sugars and/or fat.   The European Commission has asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide scientific advice on: Nutrients of public health importance for European populations, including non-nutrient components of food (e.g. energy, dietary fiber) Food groups which have important roles in the diets of European populations and subgroups Criteria to guide the choice of nutrients and other non-nutrient components of food for nutrient profiling. The request to EFSA does not include developing a nutrient profiling model or advising on current profiling models already in use for different purposes. EFSA is required to deliver its scientific opinion by March 2022. The agency stated that there will be a public consultation on the draft by the end of 2021. More Information. Changes to Allergen Labeling in Scotland On February 11, 2021, the Scottish Parliament has approved new legislation, which will require food businesses in Scotland to include the product name and full ingredients, including allergen information on pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) foods.   The new legislation should improve information about allergens and other ingredients in food packed in advance, mainly at the same place from which it’s sold, before being offered to consumers. On pack information will include the 14 ‘most common’ allergens specifically listed in food information law, as well as other ingredients which can trigger reactions.   The new law is intended to come into force on October 1, 2021, to align with the rest of the UK. More information. EU Regions’ Advisory Body Proposes Mediterranean Diet Label According to EUROACTIV, the Committee of the Regions (CoR), an EU institution with an advisory role, has proposed an ad hoc label for food products belonging to the Mediterranean diet during the plenary session of the Euro-Mediterranean regional and local assembly (ARLEM).   In a report by the deputy mayor of the French city of Nice, Agnès Rampal, she proposes the development of a “Mediterranean products” or “Mediterranean diet” label with a specific set of criteria and a broad communication plan.   The model would draw on the SIQO model (AB, PGI, PDO) used, for instance, to show on the front-of-pack label if a product originates from organic farming or has received the protected geographical indication from the EU. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-update-march-2021Food Safety Update: March 20212020 Global Food Security Index Shows Overall Decline in Food Security On February 23, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released the ninth annual Global Food Security Index (GFSI) sponsored by Corteva, which measures the underlying drivers of food security in 113 countries, based on the factors of affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.   The GFSI considers food security in the context of income and economic inequality, gender inequality, and environmental and natural resources inequality –calling attention to systemic gaps and most recently how COVID-19 exacerbates their impact on food systems.   This year, the GFSI formally includes "Natural Resources and Resilience" as a fourth main category. This addition marks a significant shift in methodology, revealing food systems&#39; resiliency against climate change. The sub-indicators under this category include food import dependency, disaster risk management and projected population growth. The 2020 index also measures gender inequality and inequality-adjusted income as sub-indicators for the first time in its history. Based on these findings, global food security has decreased for the second year in a row.   For the third consecutive year, the North American region is leading the world in food security. Europe is a close second, accounting for eight of the top 10 countries. Using the new methodology, Finland tops the list while last year&#39;s leader, Singapore, drops down to 19th place. Ireland retains its second rank position, while the United States moves to 11th place. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-march-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: March 2021EU and India Launched the High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment On February 5, the EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade Investment held its first meeting. The High-Level Dialogue, hosted on-line by India, was co-chaired on the EU side by Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, and on the Indian side by Shri Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister for Commerce & Industry. The two sides had open and constructive exchanges on a broad range of issues with the aim of enhancing EU-India bilateral trade and investment relations.   The two sides exchanged views on the state of play of EU-India bilateral trade and investment relations, and possible ways forward, such as resuming negotiations for ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements. Their discussion will feed into the preparation of the upcoming EU-India Leaders’ Meeting.   During the meeting, the EU side provided an update on the ongoing review of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which expires end of 2023, and on the work towards EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism under the European Green Deal, while the Indian side provided an updated on the “Make in India” and “Self-Reliant India” initiatives. They also examined a selection of key market access issues to identify prospects for resolving them.  Strong EU Trade Enforcement Rules Enter Into Force New trade enforcement rules have entered into force that are deemed to further strengthen the EU&#39;s toolbox in defending its trade interests. The new Regulation (EU) 2021/167 amended the Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the Union’s rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules, entered into force on February 13.   The new rules upgrade the EU&#39;s enforcement by introducing the following changes: empowering the EU to act to protect its trade interests in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and under bilateral agreements when a trade dispute is blocked despite the EU&#39;s good faith effort to follow dispute settlement procedures (the regulation previously only allowed action after the completion of dispute settlement procedures); expanding the scope of the regulation and of possible trade policy countermeasures to services and certain trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (IPR) (the regulation previously only permitted countermeasures in goods). According to a recent press release, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “The European Union must be able to defend itself against unfair trading practices. These new rules will help protect us from those trying to take advantage of our openness. We continue to work towards our first preference, which is a reformed and well-functioning multilateral rulebook with an effective Dispute Settlement System at its core. But we cannot afford to stand defenseless in the meantime. These measures allow us to respond resolutely and assertively.”   The proposal to amend the existing Enforcement Regulation came as a reaction to the blockage of the operations of the WTO Appellate Body. The current regulation –a basis under EU law for adopting trade countermeasures– requires that a dispute goes all the way through the WTO procedures, including the appeal stage, before the Union can react.   The revised Regulation enables the EU to react even if the WTO has not delivered a final ruling because the other WTO member blocks the dispute procedure by appealing to the non-functioning Appellate Body and by not agreeing to an alternative arbitration under the WTO Dispute Settlement Agreement.   This new mechanism also applies to the dispute settlement in relation to regional or bilateral trade agreements to which the EU is a party if a similar blockage arises.  Tariffs on Food From Europe to Stay for Now, US Says In a Federal Register Notice published on February 12, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it will not revise the US-EU dispute involving Large Civil Aircraft subsidies at this time.   As previously reported, EU Agriculture MEPs and trade associations from the EU and the US have been pushing for the removal, or at least a moratorium, on punitive tariffs affecting Trans-Atlantic trade in goods unrelated to the Airbus/Boeing and steel and aluminum disputes. European Parliament Considers Uzbekistan Request for GSP+ Status In recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit & Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery products, Spices, Honey (FRUCOM), the European Parliament is currently considering the Commission’s proposed Delegated Regulation which would allow Uzbekistan to accede to the enhanced GSP+ regime. The Republic of Uzbekistan made a request for GSP+ treatment on June 9, 2020, which the Commission examined and concluded that the Republic of Uzbekistan meets the eligibility criteria for GSP+.   The proposed Delegated Regulation was adopted in November 2020, and on December 3, 2020 the Parliament was given a two month extension to scrutinize the measure. After receiving the assent of the Parliament and Council, the regulation will enter into force upon publication in the European Union’s legislative observatory.   Uzbekistan already has GSP status, and the GSP+ is designed to incentivize sustainable development and good governance by “providing additional tariff preferences to developing countries which are vulnerable due to a lack of diversification of exports and insufficient integration within the international trading system”. Accession to the GSP+ is conditional to the ratification and effective implementation of 27 core international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection, and good governance.   The EU&#39;s bilateral trade relations with Uzbekistan are governed by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), and the two parties are currently negotiating an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), of which six rounds of negotiations have already taken place. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-march-2021Pesticides Update: March 2021EPA Approves Section 18 Emergency Registration Request for Kasugamycin on Almonds According to California Ag Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Department of Pesticide Regulation recently accepted a Section 18 petition to allow the use of Kasumin 2L (kasugamycin) to control bacterial blast (Pseudomonas sp) in almonds in 12 counties in the State of California.   The registration allows up to two applications under anticipated cold or freezing conditions at a use rate of 64 fl. oz. per acre from February 12, 2021 through petal fall. Application after petal fall is prohibited. Kasugamycin may only be used during bloom.   The approval applies to the counties of Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba. Use of Methidathion (Suprathion 400 EC Insecticide) in Macadamia Canceled As reported by AUSVEG, following consultation with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), ADAMA Australia has voluntarily canceled its registration for Methidathion (Suprathion 400 EC Insecticide).   Since February 4, 2021, the use of Suprathion in Macadamia plantations is not permitted under any legislation.   More information. Miravis® Duo Fungicide Approved for Use in California According to Growing Producte, the fungicide, developed by Syngenta, is now registered for use on California tree nuts. Miravis Duo has been formulated by combining two different FRAC groups of fungicides aiming to offer disease protection for tree nuts as well as enhanced resistance management.   California is the 5th US state approving Miravis Duo for use on tree nuts and stone fruits. More information. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-march-2021Agricultural Quality Standards Update: March 2021EU Initiative: Supplementary Trade Rules on Organic Food Following the entry into force of Regulation (EU) 2018/848, the Commission has published a consultation on a draft delegated regulation supplementing the trade rules on organic food.   This draft Regulation lays down rules on the procedures for the regular review of the recognition of third countries (recognized for the purpose of equivalence) and control authorities or control bodies during the transitional periods.   In addition, this draft Regulation sets out the measures to be taken by the Commission in the exercise of that supervision, including suspension or withdrawal of recognized third countries or control authorities and control bodies from the established lists.   The deadline for the submission of feedback on the draft on March 15, 2021.   Link to the consultation.  https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/agricultural-quality-standards-update-march-2021Register Now for Shipping Challenges in a COVID-19 World, an Interview with MSCCOVID-19 has disrupted almost every part of business and shipping is no exception. This is why we are excited to host a webinar on March 11, 2021, at 4pm CET that will examine the challenges presented by the global health crisis for the shipping industry. During this webinar, the INC will interview MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Trade Manager, Corrado Carosella, about the impact the pandemic is having on global container shipping. We will discuss the current state of the shipping industry and the prospects for the future. How container shipping services have been impacted by COVID-19? What has triggered shipping costs to rise? How is MSC managing the crisis? Moreover, after the interview, there will be a Q&A session. In total, the webinar will last for one hour. You will not want to miss this exciting and informative webinar! Register now! Sponsorship opportunities are still available and with a niche audience, this is a can&#39;t-miss chance to showcase your brand! If you are interested in sponsoring, please reach out to Marta Ballesté at marta.balleste@nutfruit.org.   Corrado Carosella, Trade Manager, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company Corrado is based at MSC&#39;s global headquarters in Geneva and oversees MSC&#39;s services on the significant trade routes from North America to the western Mediterranean, Israel, the Red Sea, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Born in Genoa, Italy in 1973, Corrado obtained a Law degree at Universita’ degli Studi di Genova before embarking on his career in shipping. His professional journey involved him moving to Houston, Texas in 2005 to work for MSC USA where he looked after VIP customers and worked as a Far East Trade Manager, among other roles. After a stint managing VIP customers in Charleston, South Carolina, Corrado transferred to MSC&#39;s global headquarters in 2011 and is now responsible for 7 liner services, working in close collaboration with the rest of MSC&#39;s Liner Department and management in Geneva. Thanks to all our sponsors. The INC would like to say thank you to all of our sponsors for making this event possible and continuously supporting our industry!                     https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/register-now-for-shipping-challenges-in-a-covid-19-world-an-interview-with-mscPistachios Crop Progress Report USA Pistachio Crop Progress Report The 2020/2021 crop has been updated slightly up from the previous forecast of 469,000 metric tons (1.03 billion lbs., in-shell basis) and is now estimated at around 477,000 metric tons (1.05 billion lbs.).   US shipments last year added up to over 266,000 metric tons (588 million lbs.). This year’s demand leading up to Chinese New Year and US sales during the holiday season remained consistent with the prior year and is anticipated to remain strong overall. Crop to date US shipments as of November amounted to 93,800 metric tons (207 MM lbs.), 3% up compared to last’s year November crop to date of 91,100 metric tons (201 MM lbs.). Several factors affecting sales last year are continuing to be challenges this year: along with the increase in Iranian supply, additional tariffs between China and the US, and the impact of COVID-19 in the export market, shipment issues are creating near-term shortages.  Iran Pistachio Crop Progress Report According to the Iran Pistachio Association, year to date (September 23, 2020-January 20, 2021) international shipments added up to around 106,000 tons of pistachios, only third to 2007 and 2014 record crop years. About 60% of the starting inventory had already been shipped during the first four months of the current marketing year, which will limit the available inventory for the latter months of the current marketing year.   Exports to the Far East amounted to 57,000 MT; three times up from the same period the previous year. YTD shipments to India reached 14,000 MT, up 75% compared to 2019, followed by the EU with 7,000 MT.   Demand for larger pistachio nut varieties has been exceptional this year. Hence, it is assumed that the largest share of the remaining inventory consists of Fandoghi variety. Natural kernel demand has also been very strong in different markets due to its price attractiveness. Turkey Pistachio Crop Progress Report This season, Turkish pistachio hit a record harvest of over 300,000 MT in-shell base. After 60-70% of the harvest was completed, prices softened in the market accordingly. However, due to the pandemic and related governmental rules, not all the raw materials were able to be delivered to the market, refraining prices to drop to the expected levels. The traditional domestic market has not reflected the “on year” crop in terms of pricing either. Season 2021/22 is expected to be an off-year with a crop of around 160-180,000 MT.  Spain Pistachio Crop Progress Report Considering the accumulated reserves and the new orchards entering into production, season 2021/2022 is anticipated to be an on-year. Although effective production will depend on the spring late frosts, rains and fruit setting conditions, a crop of around 3,000 MT is forecasted. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pistachio-crop-progress-reportPeanuts Crop Progress Report China Peanut Crop Progress Report China&#39;s 2020 crop peanut production is estimated at 17.77 million metric tons as per China&#39;s peanut industry. Although maturity was later and oil content is lower than usual, due to lack of sunshine and below-average temperatures during last summertime, the overall quality is reported to be fairly good.   According to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-products (CFNA), prices for Chinese peanuts were on the high side during the marketing period prior to Chinese New Year saw Chinese, mainly owing to the good performance of the crushing industry from 2019/20 into 2020/21.   COVID-19 has actually brought better sales for peanut oil with people staying more time at home cooking home-made meals. In contrast, the pandemic seems to have impacted negatively edible consumption. Nonetheless, January 2021 saw the edible market firming up with edible distributors preparing goods for the Spring festival demand. Meanwhile, the new clusters of virus cases have alarmed the manufacturing sector to build up a safe stock out of fear of supply chain disruptions due to lockdowns, which has helped to push up the market prices, in particular for edible grades. India Peanut Crop Progress Report As per the USDA FASS WAS report from January 2021, Indian peanut crop 2020/21 is estimated at 6.5 million MT, down by 3% compared to the December estimate of 6.7 million MT. Although the average yield, estimated at 1.16 MT/hectare, is down by 9% compared to 2019/20, the harvested area was up around 15% to 5.6 million ha. USA Peanut Crop Progress Report On January 12, 2021, the NASS USDA released the Crop Production Annual Report, where the full 2020/21 crop year is estimated at 2.78 million MT, 12% up from 2019/20, but 8% below last November estimate of 3 million MT. WASDE reduced ending stocks for US peanuts to 904,000 MT for the 2020/2021 marketing year.   National overall yield averaged 4.25 MT/ha, 7% down from the 4.59 MT/ha reached in 2019/20, while the harvested area was increased by 16% to 653,900 ha, which, in turn, reflected in the higher crop reached this season. Argentina Peanut Crop Progress Report As per the Argentine Peanut Chamber (CAM) latest update, the sown area for the 2020/21 season is estimated at 385,592 hectares, up by 10% compared to the previous year, which presented a significant decrease with respect to prior cycles.   The Chamber also indicated that, by the beginning of 2021, planting had just finished under good conditions, but advised to be cautious regarding yielding expectations due to the forecasted drought and delay in finishing the sowing that could affect the 2021 crop outcome.   As reported in the December 2020 USDA FAS GAIN Report, following two seasons of consecutive decrease in the planted areas, growers have returned to peanuts after rotating with other crops. As of March 2020, a Government Decree (230/2020) reduced export taxes for peanuts and peanut products, increasing their profitability relative to soybean (the major oil crop sown in Argentina) and grains. Exports are projected to amount to 950,000 MT. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/peanuts-crop-progress-reportRaisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report   Turkey Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report According to the Aegean Exporters’ Association, shipments year to date (September 1, 2020-January 30, 2021) added up to 105,936 metric tons (US$203.8 million), down by 13% from the same period in 2019/20. With export volumes amounting to 55,279 MT and 30,966 MT, the EU and the UK remained as the major markets, although below by 15% and 9% from YTD 2019/20. Exports YTD to Eurasia accounted for 10,640 MT, up 3% from last season and led by Australia (58% of the share and up by 37% against 2019/20). The Americas ranked fourth with shipments of 3,351 MT and below 32% against 2019/20.  USA Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report The raisin growing region in California experienced good weather during the 2020 growing season. However, the 2020/21 crop is expected to be smaller compared to the 2019/20 crop due to a reduction in producing acres and less crop made per acre. The fires that burned in the surrounding mountain areas in August and September last year created smoke that impacted the timing of drying and deliveries. Deliveries as of the end of December 2020 were about 158,000 MT and are expected to continue through July 2021.   Shipments increased 6% between August through December 2020 posting strong pre-holiday volume compared to the same period last year. Shipments could have been higher if it were not for the recent disruptions caused by steamship lines. Vessel delays, rolled bookings and cancellations have negatively impacted export shipments. Iran Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report Crop 2020/21 is estimated at 180,000 MT, 17% up from 2019/20. International shipments through January 10, 2021, added up to 85,000 MT and 40,000 MT are bounded to domestic consumption. The remaining stock of 55,000 MT is expected to be shipped through the end of the crop year. China Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report Raisin crop 2020 is estimated at 100,000 metric tons, about 50% shorter than the 2019 crop due to frost damages that occurred during last winter. Although in some producing areas, such as XinJiang, the COVID-19-related lockdown in August 2020 delayed the dry process, affecting the quality, the overall quality is good. South Africa Raisins, Sultanas, and Currants Crop Progress Report As reported by Raisins South Africa, just before the start of the harvesting and drying season, the Orange River Valley has been hampered by early heavy rains through December 2020 and January 2021, which are expected to result in some losses, especially for Sultana’s –a third of South African raisins production. At the time of writing this report, Merbein’s –close to half of South Africa’s hectarage– were still holding up. Raisins South Africa, along with processors technical staff, have been in frequent communication with growers to ensure that the necessary practices at the farm level were being executed to minimize crop and product damage as far as possible.   Crop forecast for Olifants River –12% of South Africa’s raisin production– looked on target as it was not affected by the rain and it might surpass production volumes of 2020.   The 2020 marketing season (January-December) was very positive, with good demand, which is foreseen to keep increasing, partly due to a strong drive towards healthier consumption. COVID-19 has impacted logistics in general, for various reasons; overall, there is a shortage of containers and delays. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/raisins-sultanas-and-currants-crop-progress-reportCOVID-19 Update: February 24, 2021The epicenter of the pandemic has continued to shift throughout the year, from China, then Europe, then the US, and developing countries like Brazil and India. Cases globally surpassed 10 million in late June, but ever since infections have been multiplying faster. The U.S. and India have the most infections, accounting for more than a third of all cases combined.   On February 19, leaders of the G7 member states, as well as representatives of the European Union, held a virtual meeting to discuss how the world’s leading democracies can work together to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world, prevent future pandemics and build back better from coronavirus.   The leaders recognized that no country can be safe until every country is safe and collectively committed over $4.3 billion to the ACT Accelerator partnership to develop and distribute effective tests, treatments, and vaccines around the world. Moreover, several nations pledged to share their additional vaccine doses with developing countries, so to support rapid reduction of virus transmission amongst some of the world’s most vulnerable and exposed populations.  WHO According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) weekly epidemiological update, the number of global new cases reported has continued to fall, with 2.7 million new cases last week, a 16% decline compared to the previous week. The number of new deaths reported also fell, with 81,000 new deaths reported last week, a 10% decline as compared to the previous week.   To ensure fair access to the latest developed vaccines the WHO, through its COVAX program, has set the ball in motion for the global deployment of vaccines to poorer countries on February 15, after it issued emergency approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine.   Low- and middle-income countries can expect to receive their first deliveries of the vaccine at the end of February as part of the COVAX shared-procurement program. The WHO hopes to deliver 336 million doses in the first half of the year and up to 2 billion by the end of December. UN The recent United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) initiative ‘Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative’, to prioritize delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines and other critical supplies across the globe has been backed by more than 10 airlines. The agreement will also act as a global logistics preparedness mechanism for other humanitarian and health crises over the longer term.     “Delivery of these life-saving vaccines is a monumental and complex undertaking, considering the sheer volumes that need to be transported, the cold chain requirements, the number of expected deliveries and the diversity of routes” said Etleva Kadilli, Director of UNICEF Supply Division.  UNCTAD Led by trade in goods, global trade recovered in the last quarter of 2020, reducing its overall decline for the year to about 9%, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) new Global Trade Update published on February 10. But while imports and exports of goods grew by about 8% in the fourth quarter of last year, trade in services stagnated as measures taken in the global fight against COVID-19 continued to affect sectors such as travel.   The report highlights persisting concerns about COVID-19, noting that uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of stimulus packages will result in a lower trade rebound in the coming months. It projects that the first quarter of 2021 will record a slowdown in the recovery of trade in goods (a 1.5% drop relative to Q4 2020) and a further decline for trade in services (a 7% drop relative to Q4 2020), largely because of continued disruptions in the travel sector.  WTO The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) recently elected chief, Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, warned against “vaccine nationalism” that would slow progress in ending the pandemic and could erode worldwide economic growth. “No one is safe until everyone is safe. Vaccine nationalism at this time just will not pay, because the variants are coming. If other countries are not immunized, it will just be a blow back,” Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said in a recent interview.   Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said a recent academic study suggests that the global economy would lose $9 trillion in potential output if poor countries were unable to get their populations vaccinated quickly, and about half of the impact would be borne by rich countries. Australia On February 16, Australia&#39;s Therapeutic Goods Administration provisionally approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. It is the second vaccine to receive such approval, following the Pfizer/BioNTech. The country has ordered 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the vast majority of which will be manufactured locally by CSL Ltd.   Prior to the approval of the Oxford/AZ vaccine, Morrison&#39;s office said the country had received more than 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 80,000 of which will be released starting February 22. Approximately 50,000 will go to states and territories frontline quarantine and health workers, and 30,000 will go to aged care, disability care residents and health care workers.  Chile More than 1.7 million adults over 65 have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data provided by the Department of Health Statistics and Information.   Health Minister Enrique Paris also expressed his wishes for the success of a global immunization campaign. “The massive vaccination against COVID-19 is about to exceed over 2 million vaccinated in Chile, which will mark an important and transcendent milestone in the history of this fight against the pandemic”, he emphasized.   Mr. Paris also supervised the start of vaccination of education workers over 60 years of age, including 513,621 teachers, teacher’s assistants, directors, administrators and food handlers.  China China reported around 300 new cases in the past two weeks. The surge in cases appears to be contained by the restrictions, mainly imposed on traveling, affecting the Chinese New Year holidays. While most of the economy has reopened, strict mask wearing, electronic monitoring and periodic lockdowns have helped virtually eliminate domestic coronavirus cases.   Hong Kong is reducing social distancing rules following a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases, including restarting indoor dining and reopening gyms. The relaxation that took effect February 18 is a huge relief for the city’s service sector, which has been hammered by periodical closure orders and strict limits on dining out. Public gatherings of more than two people remain prohibited and mask-wearing in public is mandatory until March 3.  EU A recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed that several EU/EEA countries have observed a decline in the overall incidence of COVID-19 in recent weeks, most probably due to the impact of tightened restrictions. Nonetheless, the epidemiological situation is still of serious concern across the continent, with the majority of countries still experiencing high or increasing notification rates in older age groups and/or high death rates.   While most countries are currently seeing a decline in overall infections as a response to the restrictions, the introduction and increased spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants first identified in South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and especially United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) has raised concerns.   Several countries where the UK variant has become dominant have seen rapid increases in incidence. This has resulted in increased hospitalizations, overstretched health systems and excess mortality. The South Africa variant is also associated with increased transmissibility. In addition, there is evidence pointing to the potential for reduced effectiveness for some of the COVID-19 vaccines with this variant.   On February 17, the European Commission has launched a program to study COVID-19 variants and produce “second generation” vaccines against future strains. The “HERA incubator” program will bring together the pharmaceutical industry, laboratories, health authorities and researchers. Member states will also be asked to contribute additional funds so the EU can adapt and modify contracts already signed with vaccine providers and secure doses against future variants.   Moreover, the EU Council adopted on February 11 a regulation establishing the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which lies at the heart of the EU’s recovery plan. It will make €672.5 billion in grants and loans available for public investment and reforms in the 27 Member States to help them address the impact of the pandemic, to foster green and digital transitions and to build resilient and inclusive societies. Member States will receive support on the basis of their national recovery and resilience plans, which are currently under preparation.   According to a recent press release, the EU Council adopted on February 15 two sets of temporary rules to support the transport sector, which continues to be heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Relief from airport slot use requirements will protect airlines and prevent the environmental harm that would be caused by running empty flights merely for the sake of keeping the slots for the next year.   An extension of the possibility to temporarily prolong the validity of driving licenses, roadworthiness tests and other specific licenses, certificates and authorizations will help transport operators and citizens who are unable to fulfill certain administrative requirements because of COVID-19 restrictions. The renewed rules on document extensions continue to cover road, rail and inland waterway transport, as well as maritime security.  Belgium Belgium’s coronavirus figures are continuing to evolve in a downward trend, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on February 19. Over the past two weeks, about 236 infections were confirmed per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a 16% decrease compared to the two weeks before.   However, an estimated 37% of coronavirus infections at present are the reportedly more contagious British variant. On the same day, police checks were reinforced on the Franco-Belgian border in West Flanders after an outbreak of the British variant was detected in Dunkirk.   Belgium&#39;s ban on non-essential foreign travel, which was extended from 1 March to 1 April, could be reassessed when the coronavirus committee next meets on 26 February, according to Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo. "I do not exclude that the ban will be lifted," he said. "But it could remain &#39;strongly recommended&#39; not to go abroad."  France Following an announcement from Health Minister Olivier Véran, on February 22, France increased self-isolation times for coronavirus-positive cases from seven to 10 days due to uncertainty over the new variants.   The self-isolation period had already been extended to 10 days for people who tested positive for the Brazilian or South African variant, and a negative PCR test was required for permission to end the isolation. Isolation times will remain at seven days for contact cases, Mr. Véran said.   The Minister also said that the current rules that allow people who test positive to obtain immediate time off from work via the assurance Maladie would be extended until June 1. Germany Germany&#39;s federal government and state leaders agreed last Wednesday to extend the nationwide shutdown until March 7, beyond the previous February 14 deadline. Though overall infection numbers in the country are declining, concern is rising about new variants. The current shutdown began in November and was extended and toughened before Christmas, with the number of COVID-19 patients threatening to overwhelm hospitals.   On February 14 the government stopped most travel between regions in the east and south of the country and the neighboring Czech Republic and Austria in a bid to stop COVID-19 variants from spreading. The measures are set to remain in place for at least 10 days.   Germany designated Austria&#39;s Tyrol and border regions of the Czech Republic as "virus mutation areas." The government took the decision after the South African B.1.351 coronavirus variant was found in Austria&#39;s Tyrol region. The British B.1.1.7 variant was instead found circulating in the Czech Republic.  Greece Athens and the wider area of Attica, where half of the country’s population lives, will go into a stricter lockdown, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in a televised address to the nation on February 16. The new rules, based on new coronavirus data and consultations with health experts, will run until February 28.   According to Mr. Mitsotakis, the COVID-19 mutations, which are dispersed at high rates, and the rise in admissions at the hospitals are generating problems for public health and forcing the government to impose stricter rules. Italy Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, has pledged to speed up the country’s coronavirus vaccination program as he presented his government’s priorities before a confidence vote in the upper house of Parliament on February 17. In his much-anticipated maiden speech, Draghi, who was recently sworn into office, said the government’s first duty was to “fight the pandemic by all means and safeguard the lives of citizens”.   Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief, said the government must move fast to obtain and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. Italy has administered more than 3 million jabs, according to health ministry figures.  Spain Some Spanish regions are starting to ease restrictions, while others are considering doing so, due to falling infection rates that, however, are still far above the government’s extreme risk threshold. At the same time, the mass vaccination of care homes – the first priority group of Spain’s vaccination drive – is beginning to have an effect, with contagions falling.   The Spanish government is also looking for formulas to speed up the return to levels of tourism that existed pre-pandemic. One of the key factors being considered is the creation of a Europe-wide vaccination card that could help bring back foreign tourists. India As of February 2021, India’s COVID-19 recorded cases surpassed 11 million, second only to the tally of the United States. However, since hitting a peak of close to 100,000 daily coronavirus infections in September 2020, new cases have dropped nearly 90%. Deaths have fallen by a similar rate, to fewer than 100 a day.   On February 16, Indian health officials announced that both the South African and Brazilian coronavirus variants and people returning from those countries may be tested more aggressively. The South African variant was detected in four people last month and the Brazilian one in one person this month, they said, adding that the strains can more easily infect a person’s lungs than the UK mutation. The Indian government is now considering mandating PCR tests for all people coming from Brazil and South Africa, as is being done for those flying in from the United Kingdom.   “There are no direct flights from South Africa or Brazil, so the health ministry and the civil aviation ministry are in touch on the steps to be taken on the matter,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told at a news conference.  Iran On February 9, Iran began its rollout of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to a live broadcast on state television. Health Minister Saeed Namaki said the top priority groups to receive the vaccination are doctors and nurses working at intensive care units across the country&#39;s hospitals.   Iran received its first delivery of the Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia on February 4, according to Iran&#39;s state-run news agency IRNA. The Health Minister said in addition to the Russian Sputnik vaccine, Iran has also bought some 16.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to vaccinate 8.4 million people.  Israel The Israeli Cabinet has approved a further loosening of the restrictions on economic activity as coronavirus infection rates continue their gradual downward trend. Since February 21, shopping malls, markets, museums, and libraries have re-open to everyone. However, Israelis will need to show proof they have been vaccinated, or have recovered from the disease, to gain access to gyms, sports, cultural venues and hotels, all of which have also received permission to re-open.   Israel has been making rapid progress in its vaccination program and is on track to be the first country in the world to inoculate its entire population, of about 9 million people. Health Ministry data suggests more than 4 million people in Israel would have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of last week, with more than 2.6 million people having received a second dose as well.  Japan A little over a year after the new coronavirus started spreading in Japan, the government has approved its first vaccine, becoming the last G7 nation to kick-start a massive rollout program.   Japan began its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on February 17, starting with an initial group of 40,000 health workers before it later expands its inoculation program to cover older people and people with pre-existing conditions.   Japan’s coronavirus response chief has said that the government will consider lifting its coronavirus state of emergency after confirming that the strain on hospital bed capacity has eased substantially. South Africa South Africa has reopened its major land borders with neighboring countries after closing them last month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At least 20 border posts reopened on February 15, with officials saying steps will be taken to avoid tightly-packed crowds of travelers gathering at immigration posts, which would spread the virus.   Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said South Africa is working with neighboring countries to ensure simpler movements of people. Other border posts to be reopened include the Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe and crossing points with Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland).  South Korea In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases in South Korea have displayed a gradual downward trajectory largely, thanks to stringent distancing rules such as a ban on social gatherings of five or more people. However, a recent spike in cases ahead of the Lunar New Year’s holidays has alarmed the government, and officials have urged the public to maintain vigilance and stay at home during the four-day festive period.   Millions of people were expected to travel across the country to visit hometowns and return home during the holidays. Turkey Turkey has so far administered over 5 million coronavirus vaccine jabs across the country, according to official figures. The country began its mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign on January 14, starting with healthcare workers and then the elderly.   The country also changed rules for travelers from abroad. In addition to asking for negative tests carried out within the last 72 hours before arrival to the country, travelers from Denmark, the UK, South Africa and Brazil are required to stay in quarantine for 14 days in Turkey. Travelers from the UK and Denmark will be able to self-isolate at the location where they plan to reside during their stay, while those from South Africa and Brazil will be quarantined at state-run student dormitories. A second test will be conducted on the 10th day of their stay, and if it turns out negative, their isolation will be terminated.  United Kingdom On February 14, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his government had met its target of immunizing everyone over the age of 70, along with people who live or work in nurse homes, health service workers and those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.   Since February 15, passengers arriving in the UK from coronavirus hot spots will be required to quarantine in government-managed hotel rooms for 10 days. The new rules apply to anyone who has visited any of the 33 countries on a travel ban list in the previous 10 days. The list of countries deemed at high risk of coronavirus variants, includes all of South America, southern African nations, Portugal and the UAE.   On February 22, Mr. Johnson announced his “road map” to unlock the country gradually over the months ahead. The so-called roadmap would then pass through four stages, with five weeks in-between, and the final step, when most restrictions would be lifted, not starting until June 21 at the earliest.   With more than 120,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered the world’s fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its $3 trillion economy has seen its biggest slump in over 300 years. But the Prime Minister said the fast start to the vaccine roll-out, plus a sharp fall in infections can now set out a cautious easing of England’s tough national lockdown, which started on January 5.   As the plan unfolds, lawmakers will have a chance to vote on specific steps. Authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are responsible for their own public health, are expected to also ease restrictions over the coming months. United States The US is showing encouraging COVID-19 trends. While more than 55,000 new infections were reported on February 21, it was the lowest case count since October. Just last month, reported infections were topping 200,000 a day.   California, one of the states hit hardest by the pandemic, reported its lowest daily case increases since early November. That comes amid a steady decline not only in new infections, but in hospitalizations and deaths as well.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on February 21 that about 43.6 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 18.9 million people who have been fully vaccinated.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-february-24-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: February 17, 2021Despite this, the IMF’s World Economic Outlook projected for this year a global growth of 5.5 percent, 0.3 percentage points higher than the previous October forecast. This is reflected by both positive vaccination campaigns and governmental support policies for major economies such as the US and Japan. The United States is steadily increasing the vaccination rollout, with some 54 million doses already administered. Furthermore, the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the US outnumbered new cases 10 to 1 last week. Last week the EU nations France, Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic received their first shipments of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, with hopes that the increased supply will ramp up the immunization rates. On February 10, the European Parliament approved a €672.5 billion COVID recovery fund, which will be designed to alleviate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. Over 3 million Turkish citizens have received their first doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, and Chile, who approved Sinovac for emergency use in January, is aiming to vaccinate 80% of its population by June 2021. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-february-17-2021Join Us for a Stimulating Free Webinar on Managing Risk!Mitigating Risks and Protecting Your Company&#39;s Reputation in 2021 A company’s brand and reputation needs to be actively managed like any other business asset. We know that a reputational crisis can impact revenue, profit, balance sheet resilience, share price and stakeholder trust. In this session, we will share cutting edge research that describes the financial impact of crisis events, supported by industry case studies, and we will explain how INC members can be a ‘winner’ in a crisis. A team of Aon specialists will share insights on three types of crisis events that occur commonly in the food industry – product recall and contamination, how your business’s operating systems could be disrupted, and poor governance (the importance of Directors and Officers insurance). Over the course of the Masterclass, we will share practical tips and advice to help INC members understand, assess, quantify and manage their brand and reputation. So join us on February 16 at 4pm CET for this exciting free webinar! Register Now! Aon Expert Speakers Ciara Jackson, EMEA Food, Agribusiness & Beverage Practice Leader, Risk Consulting Leader @Aon Ireland Ciara Jackson leads Aon’s EMEA Food, Agribusiness & Beverage Industry Group. This group meets regularly, with a focus on sharing ideas, and understanding sector trends so that Aon is best placed to advise their clients. An emerging risk specialist, Ciara engages with many of Aon’s largest global clients, with an emphasis on risk identification, assessment and developing industry-specific solutions for emerging risks. She is a co-founder of the Agri-Food Diversity and Inclusion Forum in Ireland, and a recognized thought leader in the industry, having authored numerous publications, and presented at key industry events and seminars. She has worked with global businesses (Grant Thornton, General Electric, Kerry Group) in financial, operational, commercial, business development, strategic and leadership roles. José María Segón, Head of Specialties @Aon Spain José María leads the Specialties Business Operation of Aon Spain focused on delivering innovative solutions to corporates, banks and global firms through a multidisciplinary highly specialized team. He is responsible for executing Aon’s Spain Specialties agenda focused on driving growth across the different solution lines to the C-Suite of the Clients. He joined Aon in 2000 and has successfully built and developed the Credit Operation being part of the EMEA Credit Leadership since the beginning. He has a solid background in setting up and developing both Team and Businesses in Trade Credit, Financial Lines, M&A, Surety and Political Risk operations for more than 20 years in the UK, French and US markets. Kary Yates, Executive Director Practice Leader, Product Recall and Contamination @Aon London Kary is the Practice Leader of the Product Recall and Contamination Team based in the Aon London Global Broking Centre.  Kary’s role is to lead, manage and coordinate global product recall and contamination placements for Aon relating to business that is placed through Aon’s Global Broking Centre, London. Primary duties include product recall and contamination programme design and placement; new product development; market facing as well as client facing alongside the Aon retail network. Kary has exceptional relationships with the London recall and contamination markets as well as proven sales and account management experience. Karl Curran, Director, Financial & Professional Services @Aon Ireland Karl has been with Aon for almost 14 years and in that time he has developed a number of differentiating products and led a number of EMEA wide D&O and Cyber initiatives to deliver value for clients. He has considerable expertise with the placement of large complex D&O programmes and advises several EMEA domiciled companies, foreign listed companies, funds and NFP entities on their D&O exposures. Separately Karl sits on Aon’s Financial Lines EMEA Steering Committee and Aon’s EMEA Cyber leadership team. Karl is associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute and is a Licentiate of Institute of Banking where he currently holds the designation “Professional Banker”. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/join-us-february-for-a-stimulating-free-webinar-on-managing-riskCOVID-19 Update: February 10, 2021One year after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared public health emergency of international concern over the outbreak of the COVID-19, the pandemic has already infected more than 105 million people all over the world, including nearly 2.4 million deaths. The worst-hit countries are the United States, India and Brazil, followed by Russia, the UK and France. By regions, there are over 46 million confirmed cases in the Americas, more than 35 million in Europe, over 13 million confirmed cases in South-East Asia, and 2.6 million in Africa. The number of vaccinations is rapidly increasing. So far, more than 131 million people have been vaccinated across 73 countries. In the United States, at the current rate of vaccinations, it is expected that 75% of the US population will be covered with a two-dose vaccine within 10 months.   The Davos Agenda took place from January 25 to 29, 2021. The World Economic Forum&#39;s January meetings brought together leaders from governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate on solutions to the most pressing issues of the day. The top impacts from the Davos Agenda included the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and supporting social entrepreneurs fighting COVID-19, among other issues. WHO About a year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared public health emergency of international concern over the outbreak of the COVID-19 –the highest level of alarm under international law. WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted that vaccines cannot exacerbate inequalities. Dr. Adhanom also challenged government and industry leaders to ensure, during the first 100 days of 2021, the ongoing vaccination of health workers and elder people.   Dr. Adhanom also remarked that: “Globally, the number of vaccinations has now overtaken the number of reported infections. But more than three-quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for almost 60% of global GDP. Around 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.” WHO COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, published the forecast for the distribution of vaccines to participating countries. However, Dr. Adhanom warned that countries need to share doses when they finished vaccinating health workers and elder people, and also a greater production of vaccines is needed. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) updated the World Economic Outlook. It highlights the fact that recent vaccine approvals have raised hopes of a turnaround in the pandemic. However, the surge of new variants of the COVID-19 as well as new waves of the pandemic, pose concerns for the outlook. Under this uncertain scenario, the global economy is projected to grow 5.5% in 2021 (up 0.3% compared to the previous forecast) and 4.2% in 2022. These predictions reflect expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of activity later in 2021 and additional policy support in a few large economies.   The projected growth recovery this year follows a severe collapse in 2020 that has had acute adverse impacts on women, youth, the poor, the informally employed, and those who work in contact-intensive sectors. The global growth contraction for 2020 is estimated at 3.5%, 0.9 percentage point higher than projected in the previous forecast. However, the recovery will vary significantly across countries, depending on access to medical intervention and effectiveness of policy support, among other factors.   The IMF recommends policy actions to ensure effective support until the recovery is firmly underway, as well as strong multilateral cooperation to bring the pandemic under control everywhere.   Some of the IMF projections for 2021 include a 5.1% GDP growth in the US, 4.2% in the Euro Area, 3.1% in Japan, 8.1% growth in China, and 11.5% in India, among others. WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General, Alan Wolff urged WTO ministers to make 2021 “a year of substantial accomplishments” by taking action on health, sustainability issues, and the joint statement initiatives. He also emphasized that cooperation on trade can accelerate access to vaccines, and called for immediate action on trade and health.  Australia Australia reopened the travel bubble with New Zealand, after no new cases were found. However, new screening measures were added. The travel bubble between the two countries does not require travelers to quarantine for 14 days, because arrivals from New Zealand are judged to be sufficiently low risk given the strong public health response of the neighboring country. However, Australia would require the screening of travelers from New Zealand before and after flights until February 9.   On February 1, Perth entered into a five-day strict lockdown, affecting 2 million people, after a  new case of COVID-19 was found. Australia managed to largely contain the COVID-19 pandemic, by applying strict public health measures including lockdowns and border controls. Australia’s vaccination campaign is expected to begin in February. Chile The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the latest Economic Survey of Chile. According to the OECD, Chile plunged into a recession by the double shock of the 2019 social protests and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Sound public finances enabled stimulus actions to support the economy. When the health crisis is under control, and the recovery underway, the reforms need to be focused on boosting jobs, and making growth work for all. The report projects a 4.2% GDP growth in 2021, and 3% in 2022. However, Chile’s GDP dropped about 6% in 2020. The OECD warns that social conflict and political uncertainty could decrease the pace of recovery.  China Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Davos’ Agenda of the World Economic Forum, which took place from January 25 to 29, in virtual format because of the pandemic. The headline of this edition was “A crucial Year to Rebuild Trust”. President Xi said “We once again have a chance to rebuild,”, calling for rethinking the economic model in the light of a pandemic that has worsened inequality worldwide. He also said that “Covid-19 has delivered the final blow” to the post-war model where free markets and limited government produced prosperity and progress that now is “no longer sustainable, environmentally or socially.” EU On January 29, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was developed in conjunction with researchers at the University of Oxford.   Despite certain delays in deliveries of vaccines, the EU aims to vaccinate 70% of adults by late summer. Until now, more than 12 million people of the EU’s 446 million population have received at least a first dose. 18 million vaccine doses have already been delivered to the EU.   The European Council reviewed the list of third countries for which Member States should gradually lift restrictions on non-essential travel. Based on the criteria and conditions set out in the recommendation, from January 28, Member States should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity. The criteria covers the epidemiological situation and containment measures, including physical distancing, as well as economic and social considerations. Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation. In addition to this, on February 1, the European Council updated the recommendations on travel restrictions from third countries into the EU. These recommendations include: 1) less than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days; 2) a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period, compared to the previous 14 days; 3) more than 300 tests per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 7 days, if the data is available; 4) not more than 4% positive tests among all COVID-19 tests carried out in the previous 7 days, if the data is available; and 5) the nature of the virus in a country, in particular, if new variants have been detected. In addition, the overall response to COVID-19 may be taken into account, in particular available information on aspects such as surveillance, contact tracing, and containment, among others. However, in case the public health situation worsens, travel restrictions may be rapidly reintroduced for non-essential travel. In the same circumstances, Member States may also limit temporarily the categories of essential travelers. Member states should require people traveling for any essential or non-essential reason, with the exception of transport and frontier workers, to have a negative PCR test taken at the earliest 72 hours before departure. They may be required to self-isolate for a period of up to 14 days, as well as further COVID-19 testing as needed during the same period. The European Council updated the recommendations on measures affecting free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a new color (dark red) added to the existing categories of green, orange, red and grey in the weekly map published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). This color will apply to areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels, including more infectious variants. These are defined as areas where the 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate is 500 per 100,000 people or more. Member States should discourage non-essential travel to red and dark red areas. In addition to this, Member States should require a prior COVID-19 negative test for arrivals as well as mandatory quarantines to people traveling from dark red areas.   On February 3, the European Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper)  approved a negotiating mandate for renewing temporary measures to help transport operators and citizens who are unable to fulfill certain administrative requirements because of COVID-19 measures taken in the Member States. The proposal extends the possibility of temporarily prolonging the validity of specific certificates, licenses and authorizations in the areas of road, rail and inland waterways transport as well as maritime security. This applies, for instance, to driving licenses, roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and boat-masters&#39; certificates. It follows on from similar rules adopted in May 2020.   The European Council adopted a mandate on new temporary rules to help air carriers cope with the drastic decline in air traffic, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is aimed to avoid companies operating empty flights. Therefore, under the general EU airport slot requirements, airlines must use at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year. The Council text grants airlines the possibility to return 50% of their slot series but expects them to use at least 50% of the remaining slots.   The European Commission obliges that exports of COVID-19 vaccines need to be authorized by Member States until the end of March 2021. This measure represents an effort to ensure transparency and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines to EU citizens.  Belgium Belgium closed restaurants and bars indefinitely in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The food and drink sector asked for the reopening on March 1, or March 15, at the latest. If restaurants remain closed for longer, the economic damage would be inevitable. The sector also claims that the reopening in June last year had little impact on the number of new infections.   The lockdown measures have been extended until April 1, and health experts excluded the possibility of an earlier reopening of the hospitality sector. These measures include curfews, the obligation to telework, the ban of gathering as well as the closure of bars and restaurants. The Consultation Committee, which could examine the relaxing of the measures, is expected to meet on February 26.  France The French Labor Ministry’s Department announced that the number of unemployed people in France rose by 7.5% in 2021, despite a 2.7% drop during the fourth quarter of 2020. The fall in the unemployment rate during the last quarter of 2020 could be explained by the state’s renewal of guaranteed loans and its coverage of the partial activity of employees. These subsidies help to maintain jobs and avoid the closure of certain companies.   The public health situation in the country is quite stable, as the infection rate has not increased significantly over the past two weeks, despite hospitals being nearly overwhelmed. For this reason, a national lockdown is not in the government plans. It is expected that all adults in France will be vaccinated by the end of summer. The AstraZeneca vaccine started to be distributed on February 6, to be delivered to health professionals and people aged 50-64. Germany Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the country is expected to have 10 million people vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of March. Merkel also said that Germany would be able to offer its adult population a jab by the end of summer.   Germany is planning to ban almost all international air travel, in order to stop the spread of the new variants of the virus. However, Chancellor Merkel is opposed to banning all travel, and has asked to halt tourism if the pandemic continues to spread. Greece Greece extended non-essential travel restrictions for domestic flights until February 8. Only essential airports are allowed essential domestic flights only, including traveling for health issues, for businesses or for family reasons, among others. International travelers are subject to a mandatory stay-at-home order for 7 days. In addition, passengers need to take a rapid test upon arrival, and if positive, the quarantine will be 14 days.  Italy COVID-19 related restrictions were eased in Italy, after severe curbs over the new year holidays. Two-thirds of Italy was declared as a “yellow zone” allowing bars and restaurants to remain open, not only for delivery or take-away.  Spain Spain and Portugal agreed to reintroduce border controls until February 10, to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Entry and exit in Spain through its internal land border with Portugal could be permitted only through authorized passages.   The region of Madrid relaxed COVID-19 restrictions from February 5. Gatherings of up to six people are allowed at outdoor restaurants, up from the current limit of four. However, the hospitality industry closes at 9.00 pm. Take away and delivery services can be ordered until midnight.   The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain hit the labor market hard, especially for the services, tourism, hotel, restaurant and catering sectors. The unemployment rate was 16.13% in January, and there are over 700,000 people affected by a temporary lay-off scheme. Portugal From January 26 until February 14, Portugal suspended all flights to and from Brazil. The Government justifies this suspension of flights with the evolution of the epidemiological situation worldwide, the increase of COVID-19 cases in Portugal and the detection of new strains of the virus.   Portugal also banned outbound travel by Portuguese citizens for two weeks, except for certain cases. Restriction measures such as the closure of non-essential businesses and the ban on movement between municipalities at weekends remain in place.   The health system is almost overwhelmed, with overcrowded intensive care units, triage tents outside clinics and high death rates. The Netherlands The Dutch government plans to extend the nationwide lockdown until March 2. Only elementary schools and daycares were set to reopen on February 8. The country has been in strict lockdown since mid-December, despite growing calls for the easing of the restrictions. India India announced its budget for the fiscal year starting in April, which includes more spending to recover from the COVID-19 recession. The budget contains increased spending on education, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure.   A year after the COVID-19 was first found in the country, the number of new cases is declining, despite being the second worst-hit country, after the US. The vaccination campaign started in mid-January, and it is expected that 300 million people will be immunized by July-August.   According to a recent USDA GAIN report, Cochin port handled 3.2 million tons of cargo in December 2020, representing an 11% increase compared to the same period of the previous year. This recovery is expected to help the port financially, after significant losses due to the pandemic in 2020. Indian Railways increased its rail services at Mumbai Port. Since the start of the pandemic, the use of freight rail significantly expanded, as truck movements had been restricted due to lockdown measures. Japan Japan extended the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic until March 7, a month after it was originally planned.   COVID-19 impacts on food distribution were highlighted in a USDA GAIN report issued on January 25. Japan declared a new 30-day state of emergency until February 7, which was extended until March 7, in response to a third wave of COVID-19 infections. Business travel, which was temporarily allowed for 11 countries and regions, has also been halted until February 7. Additionally, the programs to support domestic tourism have been suspended, with a negative impact on hotel, restaurant, and institutional sales. Restaurant bankruptcies reached a record high in 2020. However, monthly year-on-year retail sales at supermarkets continue to be stronger. In 2020, total supermarket sales were up for the first time in five years.  South Africa South Africa is expected to receive extra 20 million COVID-19 vaccines. The extra doses would potentially raise the total supply above 40 million. South Africa has already secured about 12 million doses from the WHO COVAX vaccine distribution scheme, 12 million from an African Union arrangement, and 9 million from Johnson & Johnson. In addition to this, the country approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use, with government plans to start offering the first 1.5 million doses of it to health workers from next week. However, a preliminary study led by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg found that the AZ vaccine was not sufficiently effective against mild and moderate symptoms of the reportedly more contagious South African variant, also known as B.1.351 (or 501.V2). Following the release of these results, South Africa announced that it would temporarily suspend the planned rollout of the AZ vaccine. The government later published a factsheet saying that the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine instead would be offered from mid-February. United Kingdom According to government figures, nearly 4 million confirmed cases have been reported in the UK. More than 112,000 people died. More than 12 million have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The number of new cases reached a record level in January, but the number of new cases is declining in February, due to strict mitigation measures in place across the country.   UK residents arriving to the country from hotspot countries are required to quarantine for ten days at hotels, following concerns about new strains of the virus. The measures apply to people coming from most of South America, Southern Africa and Portugal, among others.  United States January has been the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, with more than 95,000 deaths. However, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining as the vaccine roll out continues through the country.   US President Joe Biden renewed the COVID-19 travel ban on most non-US citizens who have recently been in the EU, the UK, Brazil and South Africa, due to the new COVID-19 strains. The new restrictions imposed in the US include tightened mask-wearing rules and mandatory quarantine for inbound travelers.   The U.S. Department of Agriculture temporarily suspended past-due debt collection, foreclosures and other activities on farm loans due to the pandemic.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-february-10-2021Taste and Food Safety are Prioritized over Sustainability for European Citizens When Purchasing FoodThe survey, which was conducted across the entire European Union, found that the main factors for consumers when purchasing food was the taste, food safety, and cost. Moreover, there was information showing how consumers view sustainable diets and their opinion on sustainable food. With the European Commission publishing the EU Farm to Fork Strategy earlier in 2020, the Eurobarometer was a specially commissioned survey to evaluate what factors are at play in EU citizens&#39; minds when it comes to food. One of the key findings was that consumers in the EU do not factor in sustainability as much as taste, safety, and cost, however, the results are not entirely bad for sustainability. The survey also revealed that an overwhelming majority of EU citizens welcome additional information on food sustainability. It was found that 88 percent agree that information on sustainability should be required on food labels and 85 percent agree that there should be one logo to help you choose healthy and sustainable foods. For the full report from the USDA, click here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/taste-and-food-safety-are-prioritized-over-sustainability-for-european-citizens-when-purchasing-foodAlmond Crop Progress Report USA Almond Crop Progress Report The December 2020 Almond Board of California Position Report was published on January 12, 2021 and shows receipts of 2.869 billion lbs. (approx. 1,301,000 metric tons) crop year-to-date. The FY 20/21 crop is now the largest crop on record with additional receipts expected to be reported in the coming months. USDA receipts show an average inedible reject percentage of 1.38% which continues the trend of progressively cleaner crops following the 2017/18 crop year.   Total shipments August through December are up a staggering 22% from 2019/20 at 1.284 billion pounds (around 582,400 MT) which is commensurate with a total supply that is up 23% over the same period. Domestic shipments August through December are up 11.5% from last crop year to 332 million pounds (150,600 MT). Exports are up 26% over the same time period. All regional exports are up year-over-year except for the Middle East. Shipments to key markets India and China/Hong Kong are up 79% and 54% respectively when compared to the first 5 months of last crop year. Given robust commitments and adequate supply, shipments are expected to continue to break records in 2021 as we await bloom and the development of the FY 21/22 crop. Australia Almond Crop Progress Report The 2020 crop produced a record tonnage of 111,000 MT. The loss of bee hives in bush fires at the beginning of 2020, plus COVID-19 related travel restrictions within Australia, caused some concerns for the pollination season in August. Fortunately, beekeepers managed to replace hives and move enough to orchards in southern Australia for pollination to be completed successfully. As reported by the Almond Board of Australia, the growing conditions for the 2021 crop have been favorable. The size of the 2021 crop, to be harvested commencing in February, is forecast at 123,000 MT. The kernel size appears to be very good and this may increase the crop size above the forecast figure should harvest proceed well.   After a slow start to the marketing year for the 2020 crop, shipments picked up with monthly records set for September, October and November. Grower returns are being impacted by lower global almond prices and the stronger Australian dollar exchange rate against the US dollar. The Export Position Report shows 2020/21 shipments from March through November amounted to 66,522 MT (kernel weight equivalent). Asia Pacific was the main destination with 44,681 MT. Vietnam and India had year to date increments of 157% and 38% compared to the same period in 2019/20. Exports to Europe were 14,603 MT. Germany, the Netherlands (with a strong increment from the previous season) and Spain being the major European importers. Spain Almond Crop Progress Report As per AEOFRUSE, based on the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain data overall shipments YTD –August through November, including re-exports from other origins, conventional and organic; natural and processed almonds– added up to 44,600 MT, similar to the same period in 2019/20. The European Union remains as the leading destination, accounting for 87% of the share. While Germany was the top importer within the EU, the highest increments compared to 2019/20 were presented by Portugal and the Netherlands (13% each), Italy (11%) and France (9%). https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/almond-crop-progress-reportHazelnut Crop Progress Report Turkey Hazelnut Crop Progress Report The season has started with high expectations from the majority of the farmers and trading community, where reluctance to sell and TL devaluation spree during September- November kept TL prices approximately 15% higher than the opening levels. However, with higher than expected carry over in the industry, cautious procurement policies and slower demand due to pandemic-related household economic concerns, the holiday season in lockdown and lower consumer confidence, TL prices lost steam and returned almost at the beginning levels. Higher than usual crop levels in Italy, the US, and Caucasian countries also decreased the overall demand from Turkey. It is the common belief that the majority of the remaining crop is mostly under the ownership of the farmers. As the 2021 season indicates, warm winter is closely watched for drought and early rejuvenation of the orchards. However, currently, male blooming and farm maintenance performances are quite promising. Italy Hazelnut Crop Progress Report The crop ended up even higher than anticipated. The estimate for 2020/21 was consolidated at 160,000 MT in-shell, 19% up above the initial forecast, and presented excellent quality. By the end of last year, 50% of the crop had already been processed and sold and the bumper crop compensated for the lower prices. USA Hazelnut Crop Progress Report The 2020 crop was superb both in terms of quantity and quality; it was a very low defect-year with minimal disease, mold, or insect pressure.   The pandemic continues to present production challenges, although the crop was still all processed in time as to not interrupt production. On a positive note, the “channel-switching” that has occurred across many products may very well provide an opening for new uses for Oregon’s ever-increasing supply of kernels. Traditional in-shell markets, particularly in Asia, were reduced this year as compared to the historical average. The trade challenges between the US and China continue to hamper volumes headed into this channel. Meanwhile, stable kernel demand warranted much of the crop to be shelled. Overall volumes shipped have been typical with other crops, however, with kernel making up a larger percentage than normal. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/hazelnut-crop-progress-reportWalnut Crop Progress Report China Walnut Crop Progress Report Despite crop failure in the north, owing to the increased production in Xinjiang and Yunnan, the final receipt is estimated at 1.1 million metric tons (in-shell basis). Quality is fair and good.   Overseas shipments are not as strong as last season due to a lack of containers for both ocean and land transport. The high freight rate coupled with unfavorable currency exchange has refrained exports from increasing. While anticipating robust local consumption, led by roasted nuts retail and the Chinese New Year’s demand, the industry will try to achieve stronger exports at lower pricing later on in the season. USA Walnut Crop Progress Report The California Walnut Board reported handler receipts, as of December 31, 2020, of 783,754 short tons (711,009 MT). The final crop number will be reported later in the year.   Overall, market demand remains strong driven by increased use at home. Shipments through December 31, 2020, for both in-shell and shelled, have been robust in the Middle East and Africa, showing combined gains of over 30%. With an April Ramadan, shipments are expected to remain strong. While Asian overall demand is increased, many European markets, due to the ongoing pandemic and varying restrictions, are slightly down as compared to the prior year.   In response to strong retail sales in the US and Canada, in-shell and shelled shipments have increased during the first four months of the crop season. Chile Walnut Crop Progress Report Rainfall during winter 2020 was higher than the previous year, still below the historical average, but with a good accumulation of snow, which has allowed normal water availability. However, as the stress caused by the long-standing drought from the previous season is still affecting tree productivity, Chilenut has preliminary adjusted the initial forecast of 164,000 MT in-shell basis 8.5% down to 150,000 MT. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/walnut-crop-progress-reportLatest Trade News and Agreements: February 2021China: 2021 Tariffs On December 21, 2020, China announced its import tariff schedule for 2021.   Regarding nuts and dried fruits, there are no changes if compared to the 2020 tariff list (see previous post). This announcement does not affect the retaliatory tariffs on US exports to China, which continue to be applicable. Tariffs are effective since January 1, 2021.   The listed import tariffs of nuts and dried fruits are the following:   EX* HS Code Commodity MFN Tariff Rate (%) 2021 Tentative Applied Rate (%)   08012100 In-shell Brazil nuts, fresh or dried 10 7   08012200 Shelled Brazil nuts, fresh or dried 10 7   08013100 In-shell cashews, fresh or dried 20 7   08013200 Shelled cashews, fresh or dried 10 7   08021100 In-shell almonds, fresh or dried 24 10   08025100 In-shell pistachios, fresh or dried 10 5   08025200 Shelled pistachios, fresh or dried 10 5   08026200 Shelled macadamia nuts 24 12 ex 08029090 Pecan (whether or not shelled or peeled) 24 7 ex 08134090 Dried cranberries 25 15 * EX indicates that commodities applicable to tentative duties should be within the HS code and should be determined by the Mandarin Chinese commodity description.   Announcement of the Customs Tariff Commission   USDA GAIN Report: China Lowers Applied MFN Tariff Rates China 2021 Tariff Schedule EU: Agriculture MEPs Call for a Truce in EU-US Trade Dispute In a letter addressed to EU’s Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee Norbert Lins and the majority of political groups in the committee call on the European Commission “to intervene directly” in the Airbus/Boeing dispute as sanctions stemming from it are “causing severe damage to numerous European agricultural sectors”.   As reported by the press office of the European Parliament, the letter requests the Commissioner for Trade “to negotiate with President Biden’s administration a moratorium on sanctions on both sides of the Atlantic which would allow negotiators to find an effective and long-lasting solution to this dispute”. “A conflict arising in the aeronautical field is gravely impacting agricultural communities across Europe, which are already struggling with the dire impacts of the COVID-19 crisis”, Agriculture MEPs write in the letter.   At the same time, the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit & Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery products, Spices, Honey (FRUCOM) has co-signed a letter together with 71 other trade associations from the EU and the UA calling on the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and US President, Joseph R. Biden to remove, or at least suspend all punitive tariffs affecting Trans-Atlantic trade in goods unrelated to the Airbus/Boeing and steel and aluminium disputes. EU: Positive Impacts of Trade Agreements on Agri-Food Sector According to a recent study by the Commission&#39;s Joint Research Centre (JRC), trade agreements result in increases in EU agri-food exports, creating a positive trade balance overall.    The study also confirms that the EU&#39;s approach to grant a limited amount of lower duty imports (through tariff rate quotas) is the best in terms of protecting vulnerable agri-food sectors in the EU. The study covered the cumulative effects of 12 trade agreements on the agri-food sector by 2030. In addition to this, the analysis includes trade results for the agricultural sector as a whole, and sector-specific impacts on trade, producer prices and production volumes.   Commission study finds positive impacts of trade agreements on agri-food sector Morocco: 2021 US Tariffs Morocco announced the 2021 Tariff Schedule, under the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA), according to a USDA GAIN Report issued on January 6, 2021.   Among other products, from January 1, 2021, imports of US almonds, were listed at zero tariff and zero quota.   HS 2017 Product Description Preferential treatment 0802.11.00 Almonds in-shell Rate: 0% Quantity: unlimited 0802.12.00 Almonds shelled Rate: 0% Quantity: unlimited   USDA GAIN Report: Morocco Announces 2021 FTA Tariff Schedule Turkey: Walnut Tariffs  According to a USDA GAIN Report, on December 31, 2020, the Government of Turkey raised MFN import tariffs for in-shell and shelled walnuts to 15%, except for countries that have a free trade agreement with Turkey.   HS Code Description MFN Tariff 080231 In-Shell Walnut 15% 080232 Shelled Walnut 15%   US origin in-shell and shelled walnuts are subject to an additional 10% retaliatory tariff (see previous post):   HS Code Description MFN Tariff US Retaliatory Tariff Total tariff for US imports 080231 In-Shell Walnut 15% 10% 25% 080232 Shelled Walnut 15% 10% 25%   In addition, the Turkish Government abolished the Housing Development Fund Fee (HDFF) of 320 USD/MT that was being paid for importing walnuts to Turkey. However, the oversight (or reference) price system was re-introduced. The oversight price is a minimum price that the government uses for tax purposes, even if the commodity was purchased below the oversight price.   The following oversight (or reference) price was re-introduced:   HS Code Description Oversight Value on CIF (USD/MT) 080231 In-Shell Walnut 3,500 USD 080232 Shelled Walnut 6,500 USD   Turkey Returns to 2018 Customs Tariff Regime for Walnuts https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-february-2021Sustainability Update: February 2021FAO: International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture The Federal Government of Switzerland and the FAO announced the second edition of the International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.   The award is open to individuals, private companies or institutions and comprises two categories: Category A awards excellence in digitization and innovation for sustainable food systems (USD 30,000) Category B recognizes an innovation that specifically empowers youth (under 35) in sustainable food systems (USD 30,000)   The award does not only acknowledge digital innovation, but also new or existing products or practices that are used in a specific context, to increase effectiveness, competitiveness and resilience.   The deadline for applications is March 19, 2021.   #AgInnovation   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-february-2021Labeling Update: February 2021EU: Geographical Indications The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the revision of EU geographical indication scheme.   The Commission invites organizations from the farming sector and public authorities, among others, to contribute to the assessment of how to strengthen the geographical indications’ system. The aim is to assess how to strengthen the geographical indications’ system; gather views on the major challenges identified as well as their underlying causes, the set of policy options that can be envisaged to address these challenges and the impacts of these different options.   The EU protects almost 3,400 names of specific products under one if its quality schemes: Geographical Indication (GI), Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG).   The deadline for feedback is April 9, 2021.   EU Consultation on Geographical Indications Schemehttps://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-update-february-2021Promotions Update: February 2021Chile: Green light for Walnut Promotional Campaigns in Germany and India In recent news from Chilenut, it has been reported that the Ministry of Agriculture of Chile and ProChile approved two projects related to walnut promotion strategies in Germany and India, as well as the organization of the next Exponut during the second half of the year.   Despite all the obstacles the season faced due to the COVID-19, the Chilean industry has shipped over 125,000 metric tons of walnuts (in-shell equivalent) from March 21 through December 31, 2020. The final figures will be available at the end of March.   For more information, please contact Chilenut. US: Pecan Promotion, Research, and Information Order On January 13, the Federal Register published the rule for the Pecan Promotion, Research, and Information Order, with an effective date February 12, 2021.   The purpose of the program is to strengthen the position of pecans in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for pecans, and develop new uses for pecans.   This rule also establishes the procedures for conducting a referendum to determine whether the continuation of the proposed Order is favored by domestic producers and importers of pecans. In addition, this rule announces the Agricultural Marketing Service&#39;s approval of new pecan information collection requirements by the Office of Management and Budget.   Assessment collection will begin October 1, 2021.   Federal Register, Vol. 86, No. 8. Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Pages 2880-2901 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/promotions-update-february-2021Nutrition Update: February 2021UK: Salt Reduction, Targets for 2024 Back in September 2020, Public Health England published two sets of targets for levels of salt in food products and drinks, to be achieved by 2024.   The targets, published here (to align with calorie reduction ambitions) are the 5th set of voluntary salt reduction targets, which aim to gradually reduce the levels of salt in the foods that contribute the most salt to the diet.   Salt targets have been set for crisps and snacks, flavored nuts, cakes, pastries, biscuits, meat alternatives, and beverages, among others.   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/nutrition-update-february-2021Food Safety Update: February 2021EU: Ochratoxin A and Hydrocyanic Acid In recent news from the European Federation of the Trade in Dried Fruit & Edible Nuts, Processed Fruit & Vegetables, Processed Fishery products, Spices, Honey (FRUCOM), the European Commission started discussions with the Members States on possible maximum levels for ochratoxin A in dried vine fruit, dried figs, other dried fruit including dates, and pistachios, and for hydrocyanic acid in almonds.   No conclusions have been made yet. The discussions will continue in the coming weeks. SQF Edition 9, Effective May 24 In October 2020, the Global Food Safety Institute (GFSI) released the latest edition of the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Code for audits, a tool intended to support food safety management practice. Edition 9 will be implemented on May 24, 2021.   Safe Food Alliance is offering a free webinar on February 23, with a team of their auditing experts, to discuss challenges, strategies and the biggest changes to the Code: Are you ready for Edition 9? SQF Code, Edition 9 Downloadshttps://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-february-2021Agricultural Quality Standards Update: February 2021EU Marketing Standards for Agricultural Products, Consultation The European Commission has opened a consultation on the EU marketing standards for agricultural products.   This initiative aims to update the EU marketing standards 1) to encourage the supply of more sustainable products to consumers; 2) to simplify current legislation, which uses several legal instruments, and 3) to align EU rules with requirements under the Lisbon Treaty.   The Commission is welcoming feedback for the Inception Impact Assessment, which aims to inform citizens and stakeholders about the Commission&#39;s plans in order to allow them to provide feedback on the intended initiative and to participate effectively in future consultation activities. Citizens and stakeholders are invited to provide views on the Commission&#39;s understanding of the problem and possible solutions and to make available any relevant information that they may have, including on possible impacts of the different options.   The options for a revision of EU marketing standards for agricultural products are: Eliminate the EU’s agricultural marketing standards (so they can be replaced by international, national or private standards if and where needed). Do not revise the substance of the current marketing standards but align the existing legislation with the procedural requirements of the Lisbon Treaty. Revise the current marketing standards to modernize them (e.g. to take into account technological change and new production methods), increase their contribution to the sustainability of the food system, align the rules with the requirements of the Lisbon Treaty, and simplify existing legislation by consolidating rules on marketing standards in fewer regulations. As (3) and introduce new marketing standards for agricultural products where such rules can help standardize the quality of agricultural products or contribute to the sustainability of the food system. As (3) and introduce marketing standards for all agricultural products.   The consultation is open until February 16, 2021. The adoption of a new directive is planned for the second quarter of 2022.   Consultation https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/agricultural-quality-standards-update-february-2021Corporate Due Diligence Update: February 2021EU Legal Affairs Committee Adopts Mandatory Due Diligence Legal Affairs Committee MEPs voted in favor of a new EU law that requires companies to comply with human rights and environmental standards within their value chains.   The draft legislative initiative calls on the European Commission to urgently present a law that ensures companies are held accountable and liable when they harm –or contribute to harming– human rights, the environment and good governance. It must also guarantee access to legal remedies for victims. EU due diligence rules would require companies to identify, address and remedy their impact on human rights and the environment throughout their value chain. Rules should apply to all companies operating in EU internal market, including those from outside the EU. Companies should be held liable for their actions and be fined for causing harm or contributing to it, unless they can prove that they have acted in line with due diligence obligations and taken measures to prevent such harm. The rights of victims or stakeholders in third countries would also be better protected. MEPs call for a ban on importing products linked to severe human rights violations such as forced or child labour.   Press release https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/corporate-due-diligence-update-february-2021Pesticides Update: February 2021Australia: Trade Advice Notice on Fluopyram and Tebuconazole The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is considering an application to vary the use of fluopyram and tebuconazole in the product Luna Experience Fungicide for use on grapes.   Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied to APVMA to vary the registration of Luna Experience Fungicide to add a use on grapevines. The product contains fluopyram and tebuconazole as active ingredients. Comment is sought on the potential for the proposed uses to cause undue risk to Australian trade. Tebuconazole is registered for use on grapes at higher application concentrations and later timings than proposed (e.g. Orius 430 SC Fungicide, P58733). Current MRLs for tebuconazole on grapes at 5 mg/kg, dried grapes at 7 mg/kg and grape pomace, dry at 15 mg/kg remain appropriate for the proposed use. The use of fluopyram on table grapes and grapes for drying was previously registered and MRLs were established at 2 mg/kg for table grapes and 15 mg/kg for dried grapes (currants, raisins and sultanas), however that use is no longer approved. APVMA invites any person to submit a relevant written submission as to whether the application to vary the registration of Luna Experience Fungicide should be granted. Submissions must be received by February 15, 2021.   Trade Advice Notice on fluopyram and tebuconazole in the product Luna Experience Fungicide for use on grapes Codex: Pesticides, Schedules and Priority Lists The Codex Alimentarius is requesting comments on the establishment of the schedules and priority lists of pesticides for evaluation/re-evaluation by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meeting of Pesticide Residues (JMPR).   Member countries and Observers are strongly encouraged to provide advice on the compounds that remain unsupported, including Amitraz PHC (122), Bromopropylate PHC (070), Fenarimol PHC (192), Dichloran PHC (083), Bromide ion (047), Fenbutatin oxide (109), and Permethrin (120), among others.   More information EU: Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD) with deadline for feedback April 12, 2021.   As part of the European Green Deal, the Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy sets specific targets to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030.   The Commission is evaluating the SUD and assessing the impacts of possible future measures intended to significantly reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides. The rules encourage reducing pesticides through integrated pest management and alternatives to chemical pesticides.   On January 19, the Commission held the first stakeholder consultation event. More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-february-2021Brief COVID-19 Update: February 3, 2021At the end of January, border restrictions were tightened in the United States, France, Israel and Sweden, among others, in order to contain the new variants of the virus. Scientist claim that large scale vaccinations are the only way to end the pandemic. However, in certain countries, the roll-out seems to be slower than originally planned.   The International Monetary Fund (IMF) updated the World Economic Outlook and it highlighted the fact that recent vaccine approvals have raised hopes of a turnaround in the pandemic. However, the appearance of new variants of the COVID-19 as well as new waves of the pandemic, pose concerns for the outlook. Under this uncertain scenario, the global economy is projected to grow 5.5% in 2021 (up 0.3% compared to the previous forecast) and 4.2% in 2022. Such predictions reflect expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of activity later in 2020 and additional policy support in a few large economies.   The World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff has urged WTO ministers to make 2021 “a year of substantial accomplishments” by taking action on health, sustainability issues, and other initiatives. He also emphasized that cooperation on trade can accelerate access to vaccines, and called for immediate action on trade and health. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-february-3-2021Davos World Economic Forum: Top ImpactsThe World Economic Forum has identified eleven top impacts from the Davos Agenda, from COVID-19 to social justice and the environment: Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: Through the COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its Partners have launched more than 40 initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bringing racial justice to the workplace: The Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative brings together 48 companies to set new global standards for racial and ethnic justice in business. Using blockchain to track and reduce emissions: A new effort uses distributed ledger technology to trace emissions across the value chain in the mining and metals industry. Fostering a multi-generational inclusive workforce: Fifty global companies representing more than two million employees have come together with the Forum, the OECD and AARP to create the Living Learning and Earning Longer initiative. Improving physical and mental health in cities: The Healthy Cities and Communities initiative is examining the link between cities and healthy living. Applying technology to combat plastic pollution: A new project is providing visibility and support to workers in Ghana known as waste pickers who clean up communities and natural areas. Building a global response to cybersecurity risks: Businesses are building a global response to cybersecurity risks through the Future Series: Cybercrime 2025. Charting a course for cities to reach net-zero: From clean electrification to efficient buildings and smart infrastructure, a new initiative will help cities chart a course towards a net-zero carbon future. Committing to disability inclusion across companies: More than 400 companies have joined the Valuable 500 initiative and committed to increasing their organization’s confidence and competence in disability inclusion. Closing the digital gap: The new EDISON Alliance will bring together governments and industries to accelerate digital inclusion and connect critical sectors of the economy. Supporting social entrepreneurs fighting COVID-19: The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, launched in April 2020, is mobilizing support for and raising awareness of the vital role that social entrepreneurs play in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/davos-world-economic-forum-top-impactsCOVID-19 Update: January 27, 2021Despite the negative numbers of both infected people and those who died because of the pandemic, mass vaccination campaigns continue to grow worldwide. To this day, more than 65.6 million people in 56 countries have been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the recent discovery of new variants of the virus raises questions about the efficacy of the different vaccines against the new strains.   According to a new study, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is likely to protect against the highly infectious variant of the COVID-19 first identified in the UK. Other laboratories such as Moderna and AstraZeneca are currently testing if their vaccines protect against the new variants. Shipping costs skyrocket by 300% Shipping costs have skyrocketed due to lack of empty containers and delays for goods purchased from China.   The European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT) and the European Shippers&#39; Council (ESC) have alerted the European Commission on the current practices of liner shipper carriers as European supply chains are becoming more distorted. These include the violation of existing contracts, the establishment of unreasonable conditions concerning the acceptance of bookings and the unilateral setting of rates far in excess of those agreed in contracts. The delays and lack of space, combined with the surge in tariffs, present a serious risk to the ability of economic recovery.   The World Shipping Council wrote in a statement early last month, “Vessel capacity is fully utilized, and little excess is available.” The pandemic has severely impacted access to containers and equipment. As inland transportation, port and warehousing operations have been hit by lockdowns, labor shortages and volume overloads, the positioning, use and return of containers within the global supply chain has slowed. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom announced that the WHO emergency committee met and made a series of recommendations on the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee emphasized the need for governments to do anything within their means to curb down the number of new infections through tried and tested public health measures. Dr. Adhanom also emphasized the need to roll out COVID-19 vaccines equitably, especially in the least developed countries.   The WHO Director-General also highlighted the importance of safe and effective vaccines in order to curb down the spread of the pandemic. The recent emergence of rapidly-spreading variants makes the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines all the more important. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a 7.9% growth of China’s GDP in 2021, slightly down from its previous prediction of 8.2% growth. The IMF report states that: “The Chinese economy continues its fast recovery from the health and economic crisis as a strong containment effort and macroeconomic and financial policy support have mitigated the crisis impact and helped the economy rebound.” Australia Since January 22, foreign nationals traveling to Australia are required to provide COVID-19 tests with negative results, taken 72 hours of their departure. All passengers are asked to face a 14-day hotel quarantine upon their arrival, and face masks are mandatory on all international flights. Among the COVID-19 mitigation measures adopted, there are border closures, mass screenings and strict lockdowns. However, the economic damage caused by these measures is beginning to ease and the economy rebounds as outbreaks seem to be under control.  Brazil On January 17, Brazil approved two COVID-19 vaccines and started a vaccination campaign amid a steep surge in new cases. On January 15, the state of Amazonas declared a ten-day curfew from 7:00 pm to 6:00 am to stop the rapid spread of the virus. In addition to this, non-essential businesses closed for 15 days. China China declared a state of emergency in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, to curb down the spike of new cases. Previously, China locked down the cities of Xingtai and Shijiazhuang, as the daily number of new coronavirus cases doubled on January 10. Both cities tested all 13 million residents. On January 22, Beijing started mass screening of more than 2 million people in the city center, after the discovery of two cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the UK. In addition to this, more than 15 million people have been vaccinated in China against COVID-19, as the country prepares for the upcoming Lunar New Year Festival. It is also expected that the holiday traffic will drop by about 40% compared with 2019. Regarding economic recovery, China’s economy grew 2.3% in 2020, being the only major economy that avoided a contraction. However, China experienced its slowest economic expansion in more than 40 years. According to the latest trade figures, exports in December grew 18.1% compared to the same month last year, and imports to China increased by 6.5%.  EU On January 21, the European Council held a videoconference focused on responding to the second wave of the pandemic. EU leaders highlighted the seriousness of the situation, especially regarding the new variants, and they aim to limit the spread of the pandemic by the adoption of similar measures in all EU member states. Some of the conclusions are the following: 1) Internal borders need to stay open in order to ensure the flow of essential goods and services. However, EU leaders strongly discourage non-essential travel, and warned that stricter restrictions may be implemented if the spread of new cases continues; 2) EU leaders welcomed the agreement on rapid antigen tests and the mutual recognition of the results; 3) Vaccination plans need to be accelerated, and delays should be avoided; 4) Leaders agreed to work on a standardized and inter-operable form of proof of vaccination for medical purposes, and 5) leaders reaffirmed their solidarity with third countries.   The European Council reached an agreement on mutual recognition of COVID-19 tests. Tests carried out in any member country will be recognized by all 27 EU Member States. This is an essential tool to stop the spread of the virus and contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market. In addition to this, the mutual recognition of test results is expected to facilitate cross-border movement, cross-border contact tracing and treatment.   It is expected that by January 29, the EU will approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This jab would be the third one approved in the EU, following BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna. The EU has sealed six vaccine contracts for up to 2 billion doses for a population of approximately 450 million.   The European Commission recently approved a €12 billion scheme which will enable Germany to compensate businesses for the damages suffered because of the restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the scheme, companies from all sectors will be entitled to compensation for damages suffered during the lockdown periods imposed by the German government in 2020. The compensation, in the form of direct grants, covers either up to 100% of the actual damage incurred during the lockdown periods, or 75 % of the turnover in the reference months of November and December 2019, whichever amount is lower. Belgium Belgium extended COVID-19 mitigation measures until March 1, in order to avoid a new resurgence of the pandemic caused by the premature relaxation of the measures. However, in case that the public health situation improves significantly, the measures could be relaxed in February. Belgium’s Consultation Committee plans to ban non-essential travel, due to the fact that, on January 21, the European Council didn’t reach an EU-wide solution regarding this matter. France On January 16, France adopted a 6 pm nationwide curfew for at least 15 days,  to contain the spread of the COVID-19, as well as its new strains. In addition to this, France tightened border controls for non-EU citizens, which, since January 18, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before the departure.  Germany A new strain of the COVID-19 has been found in Bavaria. For the moment, it is not known if it is more contagious or more deadly than the COVID-19 and its already discovered variants in the UK and South Africa. Regarding the public health situation, Germany surpassed 50,000 COVID-19 deaths on January 22. As the situation in Germany did not improve, the government strengthened restrictions. These new restrictions include the extension of a partial lockdown until February 14, border checks, mandatory wearing of medical-quality masks in certain places, as well as the obligation to work from home.  Greece Studies suggest that the pandemic may cause the closure of between 80,000 to 100,000 businesses in Greece, if additional post-pandemic supportive measures are not taken. Italy Italy announced that COVID-19 restrictions already in force, such as night curfew from 10 pm, continue to be applicable until March 5. Therefore, travel restrictions will also be in place, a regional travel ban will remain until February 15, and other non-essential businesses such as gyms and pools will remain closed until March 5. More than one million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Italy, and it is expected that most of the population could be inoculated by September. Spain Spain is planning certain reforms in order to access the EU funding sooner, with the aim to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. The reforms, focused on digitalization and the transition to a greener economy are expected to accelerate the €72 billion of EU funds over three years. On January 25, Spain reported 93,822 new coronavirus cases –the highest weekend figure since the start of the pandemic. The country has likely reached the peak of the third wave and the Health Ministry has warned the situation in hospitals is “critical”. New restriction measures are going into effect in Valencia, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Andalusia and the Basque Country to curb the virus, from tighter limitations on public gatherings to perimetral lockdowns on weekends. Spain is under a state of alarm since October. Portugal Portugal ordered a strict COVID-19 lockdown, to curb down the increasing number of new cases. Under the lockdown terms, it is mandatory to stay home, including for work. However, schools and companies that provide essential services keep functioning. The non-essential businesses that remain closed will receive financial help. In addition to this, schools will close for two weeks, in order to stop the spread of the new variants of the COVID-19. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) attributed the increase of new cases due to the relaxation of restrictions during December holidays, and to the new COVID-19 strains. The Netherlands To stop the spread of the new COVID-19 variant, the Netherlands introduced a curfew from 9 pm and 4:30 am, starting on January 23, until February 9. These measures were set to expire on January 19, but the reports on the spread of new COVID-19 variants forced the decision. Since mid-December, there is a lockdown which closed non-essential businesses, schools and restaurants, and there is also a limitation of social contacts. In addition to this, flights from the UK, South Africa and South America are banned, due to the number of new variants that have been reported there. India India reported more than 10.63 million COVID-19 cases and 153,032 deaths. However, the country has already inoculated more than one million people within a week. About 30 million healthcare workers will be the first to get vaccinated, followed by 270 million high-risk people and people over 50.   Trade volumes fell 9% for India’s top 12 state-run ports, from April to December, compared to the same period of 2019, according to a recent USDA GAIN report. Mumbai Port cargo volume dropped 18% during the same period, if compared to the previous year. Mudra port handled 44% more cargo volume in December, compared to the same period of 2019. The cargo volume in Tuticorin, Kandla, Chennai, Mangalore, Kolkata and Cochin ports dropped 12%, 9%, 15%, 7%, 7% and 14%, respectively, during April-December, compared to the same period of the previous year. Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the Parliament that the already postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo will go ahead. The President of the International Olympic Committee also agrees with the statement of the PM. If the Olympics take place in 2021, there will be preventive and mitigation measures in place in order to avoid new infections. However, polls indicate that the public support for the 2021 Olympics has plummeted. Malaysia Malaysia declared a state of emergency, and the Parliament has been suspended for six months, in order to curb down the spread of the pandemic. South Africa The number of new cases in South Africa has almost doubled in January. It is suspected that a more contagious strain of COVID-19 may be causing this second wave of infections in the country. The restrictions in force to contain the spread of the pandemic include the closure of beaches and reintroduced curbs on alcohol sales, among others. The World Bank projects South Africa’s GDP to rebound by 3.3% in 2021. South Korea The country is in talks to secure 40 million COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax. If this agreement is reached, it will ensure 146 million doses, more than enough for its 52 million inhabitants. In addition to this, it is expected that South Korea will start mass vaccinations in February. Turkey The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recently issued an Economic Survey of Turkey. The report highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic hit Turkey’s people and economy hard, accentuating pre-existing challenges. The OECD also says that a full recovery from the crisis will take time, given the uncertainty over the future evolution of the pandemic, the decrease of tourism, as well as Turkey’s limited welfare provisions and high levels of corporate and household debt. It is also expected that when the recovery comes and investor confidence is restored, a combination of market, institutional and education reforms could lift the GDP by 1% per year. United Kingdom The COVID-19 related death toll in the UK approaches 100,000. For the moment, it is Europe’s worst figure and the fifth-worst worldwide, after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico. The early relaxation of COVID-19 mitigation measures in the country would represent a higher number of infections. In addition to this, Scotland extended lockdown measures until mid-February. The measures include the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. United States US president Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package aimed to revive the economy. The spending proposal will build on the two massive relief packages approved by Congress in 2020. It includes a series of measures such as stimulus payment checks for individuals, $160 billion for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, about $440 billion for small businesses and communities particularly hit by the pandemic, among others. In addition to this, it is expected that the new presidency will sign an order requiring face masks on federal property as well as for interstate travel. POTUS also asked citizens to commit to wearing face masks for at least 100 days, in order to curb down the spread of the pandemic. The US will require COVID-19 negative tests for inbound air travelers within the previous three days. The new measure came into effect on January 26. This measure was announced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expanding the measures currently in place for UK travelers, after the emergence of new variants. The CDC will also recommend that travelers stay home for seven days and get another test some days after their arrival.   From January 19 until February 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is accepting new or modified applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). USDA announced the additional assistance on January 15, which includes expanding CFAP eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities, and updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied for earlier assistance. This additional assistance builds on about $23.6 billion in payments made available through CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 earlier signups.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-january-27-2021Sign Up Now for the 2021 INC Academia This year students will have the opportunity to personalize their learning experience and tailor the program to fit their needs. Furthermore, with some new courses, students can dive into the topics of International Markets, Risks & Insurances, and Cross-Cultural Negotiation, with subunits on the new INC Short Form Contract and Nut Allergy! Registration is currently open for this edition of the INC Academia and prospective students can enroll all the way up until October 31, 2021! For those students who enroll in the General Elective Track, the deadline to complete the program is 3 months from the start date. Those students who elect to undertake a Specialized Elective course, the deadline is 1 month from the start date. As there is a new track, past students are encouraged to take advantage of the new courses within the Specialized Elective Track and they will receive a discounted price of €400, from the original €600 for each course! INC members will get a reduced price of €1500, down from the normal €2000 for the General Elective Course and €450, reduced from normal €600, for the specialized courses! Don’t miss your chance to partake in the best education courses for the nut and dried fruit industry! Enroll today! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sign-up-now-for-the-2021-inc-academiaJoin the INC for Anuga 2021After a year of live in-person food fairs shifting to virtual conferences, the INC is pleased to announce its intention to participate in Anuga 2021, from October 9-13. With enhanced safety measures taken by the organizers of Anuga, this event guarantees to be the ideal time and place to gather once again and celebrate being able to do business in a face-to-face setting once again! Due to the new rules caused by the pandemic, Anuga was only able to offer the INC a 195 sq m pavilion with the capacity to accommodate up to 8 exhibitor booths. This will allow exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their companies to thousands of expected participants. It is the best opportunity to get your products and services in front of a niche market that will enable you to grow your brand as well as network with peers in the nut and dried fruit industry. Those who register to become a co-exhibitor before March 15, 2021, will receive a discount of €1,900! Don´t miss your chance for the early bird discount! The INC is excited to return to the food fair stage and we sincerely hope to have you join and take part in what is going to be a highlight of 2021!  Book your space now! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/join-the-inc-for-anuga-2021USDA Market Prospects: United KingdomAs the UK and the US share strong social and cultural ties, there is plenty of reason to believe that the UK is a strong market opportunity for US products. The report remarks that the current UK market is seen as an opportunity for many US consumer products, especially “healthy” foods, including dried fruits and nuts. Due to this strong connection between the two countries and the focus on “healthy” food items, tree nuts, and dried fruit are considered among the top ten growing food products. When looking at the top imports from the United States from 2014-2019, tree nuts enjoy one of the highest growth rates at 21.3%. Interestingly however is the historical growth rate for dried fruit has been decreasing steadily. Although dried fruits do not share the same growth pattern as tree nuts from 2014-2019, the USDA considers them an area of opportunity and potential growth, especially after COVID-19 and Brexit. As in most countries around the world, COVID-19 has been particularly devastating for the foodservice industry, however, retailers have experienced surges. With the retail growth, and consumer trends of food consumption taking place more at home, there is support for the belief that both tree nuts and dried fruit can see growth in the future. Another unavoidable topic is the economic ramifications of Brexit. With the UK officially leaving the single market and customs of the European Union on January 1, 2021, the UK has had to negotiate its own free trade agreements with the European Union to avoid tariffs. Due to the newly signed Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, advocating no tariffs, US products will continue to face stiff competition from European products. This is considered a substantial challenge for US products in the UK, but if the US and UK come to a free trade agreement, these concerns will cease to exist and further trade growth between the two countries could be anticipated. For more information, please view the USDA’s report. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usda-market-prospects-united-kingdomBrief COVID-19 Update: January 20, 2021Despite these numbers giving real hope of bringing the pandemic under control, COVID-19 herd immunity is not likely to happen in 2021, according to the WHO. Herd immunity occurs when enough people are immune to an infection so that it prevents the spreading of the disease. Until then, mitigation measures such as face masks, lockdowns, and social distancing measures, among others, will be necessary. According to recent statistics by Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 global death toll surpassed 2 million. The first million people died within the first eight months of the pandemic, but it took less than four months to reach the next million.    France has adopted a 6 pm nationwide curfew for at least 15 days, in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19, as well as its new strains. In addition to this, France tightened border controls for non-EU citizens, which, from January 18, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test before their arrival.   China declared a state of emergency in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, in order to curb down the spike of new cases. Previously, China locked down the cities of Xingtai and Shijiazhuang, as the number of daily new coronavirus cases had doubled in China on January 10. Both cities have finished carrying out mass testing of all 13 million residents.   US president-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package aimed at reviving the US economy. The package includes a series of measures such as stimulus payment checks for individuals, $160 billion for COVID-19 vaccination campaign, and about $440 billion for small businesses and communities particularly hit by the pandemic, among others. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brief-covid-19-update-january-20-2021COVID-19 Update: January 13, 2021In order to stop the spread of this new strain, several European countries such as Germany, Italy, France, Belgium or the Netherlands imposed travel bans, causing a collapse of the highways near the Eurotunnel at the end of 2020.   Mass vaccination campaigns began in December. Since then, more than 25 million people from over 42 different countries have been vaccinated against COVID-19. However, global COVID-19 cases surpassed 88.8 million, and the death toll is over 1.9 million people. In the Americas, there are more than 39 million cases, over 28 million in Europe, more than 12 million cases in South-East Asia, and over 2.1 million in Africa. The worst hit countries are the US, India and Brazil, followed by Russia, the UK and France. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report on its 2020 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report includes an interactive timeline that accounts for day-by-day actions of the WHO. Some of the key achievements are: 1) over 289 million of personal protection equipment, diagnostic and medical supplies shipped around the world; 2) more than 14,000 patients enrolled in the Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 treatments, in nearly 500 hospitals in more than 30 countries; 3) 190 economies signed up to COVAX for  fair and equitable access to vaccines; 4) over 1.3 billion people reached with crucial health information through the WHO website; and more than 500 COVID-19 related documents published, including over 125 guidance documents to 10 research protocols. In addition to this, WHO hosted 38 Member State information sessions, during which a total of 79 countries shared their experiences with COVID-19. The media have also been a key audience and partner, sharing the latest developments on COVID-19 during over 130 briefings for journalists.   The global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, COVAX, announced additional deals to ensure access to COVD-19 vaccine candidates. COVAX currently has agreements in place to secure nearly two billion doses and further doses are expected to be secured through donors’ contributions. All COVAX’s 190 participating and eligible economies will be able to access doses to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021. At least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses will be made available to 92 economies eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC, targeting up to 20% population coverage by the end of the year. These mass vaccination efforts are expected to end the acute phase of the pandemic globally by the end of 2021.   On December 21, WHO Director-General&#39;s Dr. Tedros Adhanom announced that there have been reports of new variants of the COVID-19 virus in South Africa and the UK. This new variant is transmitted more easily but there is no evidence so far that it is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality. WHO is working with scientists to understand how these genetic changes affect how the virus behaves.    Dr. Adhanom has remarked that vaccines give real hope of bringing the pandemic under control in the next 12 months. 42 countries have started vaccinating their high-risk populations against COVID-19. However, these countries are high-income and middle-income countries, and vaccination plans also need to reach low-income countries. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its Annual Report 2020, which remarks the efforts made by national governments to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic, with nearly $12 trillion in fiscal actions and about $7.5 trillion in monetary actions. IMF member countries also contributed to the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which allowed the IMF to commit over $100 billion to help countries in need since the beginning of the pandemic.  WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued the information note “Developing and delivering COVID-19 vaccines around the world”, which explores the role of trade policy in the rapid roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. The paper is divided into three sections: 1) Section A provides background information on immunization and the urgent search for vaccines against COVID-19; 2) Section B overviews the development and delivery of vaccines, from the vaccine development to international distribution, border clearance and domestic distribution; and 3) Section C identifies key decisions with trade impact which need to be made along the vaccine value chain. This section also includes a checklist of trade issues to consider along with the COVID-19 vaccine value chain, as well as a world map of clinical trials and partnerships on COVID-19 treatments.   According to a WTO report on world trade volume in the third quarter of 2020, merchandise trade increased by 11.6% compared to the previous quarter. However, the trade volume of the previous quarter fell by 12.7%. Despite the rebound, the volume of trade between July and September was still 5.6% lower than in the same period last year. More industrialized regions saw stronger recoveries in their merchandise exports. The highest export growth, compared with the previous quarter, was recorded in North America (20.1%), Europe (19.3%) and Asia (10.1%). However, if compared to the previous year, exports in the third quarter were still down in North America (‑9.0%), Europe (-5.4%), South and Central America (-3.4%) and other regions (‑11.4%). The only exception was Asia, with over 0.4% increase. Regarding import volumes, North America and Europe imports rose by 16.6% and 15% respectively, compared to the previous quarter, 2.1% rise in Asia, and additional 0.7% decline in South and Central America. If compared to the same period of 2019, imports fell in North America (‑4.7%), South and Central America (-19.4%), Europe (-6.4%), Asia (-4.7%) and other regions (‑14.7%).  Australia Australia and New Zealand agreed in principle to a quarantine free travel bubble between certain cities in the two countries by the beginning of 2021. This agreement comes nearly after a year of New Zealand’s border closure to protect its population from the pandemic. However, this measure is only applicable if there are no significant changes in circumstances.   New South Wales imposed a lockdown on December 18, in Sydney’s northern area, with over 250,000 residents, after a cluster of new infections had been found. Australian states and territories warned their residents to leave New South Wales and return as soon as possible if they wanted to avoid mandatory quarantine. In order to contain the spread, New South Wales opened new testing sites. In addition to this, cases of the new COVID-19 strain were found in Australia, the firsts in the Asia-Pacific region. Brazil According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Brazil was pulling out of a long recession when the pandemic started, and COVID-19 brought an even deeper recession in the country. According to the OECD, Brazil will require additional ambitious reforms to boost jobs, productivity and trade, as well as to strengthen public finances and improve social protection.   The latest OECD Economic Survey of Brazil highlights Brazil’s response to the pandemic, which spared the country from more severe economic impact. However, the report states that the pandemic will still significantly affect well-being and prosperity. The Survey estimates the COVID-19 crisis will cause GDP to shrink by 5% in 2020, a 2.6% increase in 2021, and 2.2% in 2022. Reforms are needed in order to help firms to grow and compete internationally and to address rising poverty and inequality in the country.   Brazil plans to start COVID-19 vaccinations in January, with a total of 354 million doses secured for 2021. The public health situation in the country is negative, as of January 5, with 56,648 additional cases and 1,171 new COVID-19 deaths. China There has been a recent spike of new COVID-19 cases in Hebei, a region near Beijing. In order to curb down the number of new infections, the region implemented some of the strictest restrictions since March 2020. Among the restrictions, Hebei’s capital city of Shijiazhuang has stopped passengers from going to its train station, suspended long-distance buses, and blocked major highways in the province. Therefore, people are not allowed to go out of the city, in order to contain the spread of the virus.   It is expected that China’s economy may expand by 9% in 2021, despite China’s GDP fell by 6.8% during the first quarter of 2020. At this moment, China leads the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially because of the improvement of the public health situation, and thanks to the stimulus measures.   Regarding consumption, China reported around 5% increased retail sales in November, if compared to the same period of 2019. This was the fourth successive month of expansion. Retail sales are a key indicator of consumption trends. In addition to this, industrial production and manufacturing also increased if compared to the previous year. EU On December 21, the European Commission authorized its first safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, developed by BioNTech and Pfizer. The authorization followed positive scientific recommendations, and it is endorsed by EU Member States. The first doses were delivered on December 26, and the first vaccinations started on December 27-29. By September 2021, the EU is expected to have distributed full 200 million doses. The European Commission also published some Questions and Answers regarding the COVID-19 vaccination in the EU.   On January 6, the European Commission approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the second vaccination which is green lighted in the EU, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This approval grants additional 160 million doses of vaccines.   By late December 2020, countries began mass vaccinations. However, the EU has been criticized for slow vaccine rollout, questioned about if there are enough purchased vaccines to immunize the majority of EU citizens.   The Council of the EU and the European Parliament agreed provisionally on the EU4Health program for 2021-2027 with a budget of €5.1 billion. This program is aimed to support national policies and promote coordination, particularly by: 1) supporting health promotion and disease prevention, 2) contributing to the protection of people in the EU from serious cross-border threats to health, 3) increasing the use of digital tools and services in the health area, also by the establishment of a European Health Data Space, 4) increasing cross-border cooperation, (i.e. by European Reference Networks), and 5) supporting global commitments and health initiatives by international organizations, in particular the WHO.   On December 15, the European Council called for strengthening resilience and countering hybrid threats, including disinformation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council notes that new technologies and crises, such as the ongoing pandemic, offer opportunities for hostile actors to expand their interference activities. These pose an additional challenge for Member States and EU institutions, besides the crisis itself. In addition to this, the Council acknowledges that the pandemic makes the EU and its member states more vulnerable to hybrid threats. Such threats include the increased spread of disinformation and manipulative interference. A comprehensive approach involving effective cooperation and coordination in a multidisciplinary way and involving multiple stakeholders is needed to address such threats.   On December 17, the European Council adopted the regulation laying down the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027, which provides for a long-term budget of €1,074.3 billion, including the integration of the European Development Fund. This fund, together with the Next Generation EU recovery instrument of €750 billion, is expected to allow the EU to provide an unprecedented €1.8 trillion of funding over the coming years to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the EU&#39;s long-term priorities across different policy areas.   In addition to this, the Council approved conclusions on making the recovery from COVID-19 circular and green. The conclusions highlight the role of circular economy in the recovery and link it to digitalization.   On December 18, the Council also approved conclusions on the lessons learned from the pandemic, covering four areas: 1) improving EU crisis management and preparedness by strengthening the EU health security framework, 2) ensuring the supply of medicinal products, 3) improving access to and sharing of health data, and 4) strengthening the EU’s role in global health. Belgium From December 20, Belgium suspended flights and train arrivals from the UK, after a new strain of COVID-19 was found in Britain. France France began mass COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of 2020. The country decided to accelerate the process, especially among the population most at risk. France is under strict social and economic restrictions due to the infection rate, and 15 departments imposed curfews at 6 pm. A few days afterwards, due to the increasing number of new infections, 8 additional departments extended the curfew to start from 6 pm. Germany Germany’s death toll was set to double in December, compared to the previous month. In addition to this, the number of new infections is also increasing in the country, that together with the death toll, indicates that the peak of the second wave has not been reached yet. In order to curb down the number of new infections, Germany implemented new restrictions, including the closure of non-essential businesses, as well as limitations on group gatherings. These restrictions were expected to end by January 10, 2021. However, as the public health situation was not improved, on January 5, the lockdowns were extended by three weeks until January 31. As in many other countries, mass vaccinations in Germany began by late December. However, in order to sufficiently immunize the population, several months of vaccination campaign are necessary. Italy Italy is under a state of emergency until the end of January and the government is considering its extension until July 31. The country is still under nationwide restrictions, but agreed to relax curbs on weekdays. Ministers agreed on January 4 to return to the old, three-tier system, which allows for different measures to be applied to different regions. The Netherlands Despite the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in the EU at the end of December, the Netherlands began the vaccination program nearly two weeks after most EU nations. The Netherlands is currently on a strict five-week lockdown imposed in order to curb down the number of new infections. In recent days, infection rates have decreased, but the country’s public health institute said, on January 5, that the lockdown has not yet clearly curbed down infection rates. Spain Since the beginning of January, the public health situation in Spain is getting worse. However, this data is believed to be underreported due to a slowdown in testing due to recent holidays, but it is supported by other indicators, such as hospital admissions, which show a clear increase. Mass vaccinations in Spain began by late December. However, as in other EU countries, there are disappointments due to a slow rollout of COVID-19 inoculations. The objective is to have 15 to 20 million citizens vaccinated by May-June.  United Kingdom On December 20, the UK closed all non-essential shops and imposed stricter rules amid a new variant behind a huge surge of infections. However, as the number of new cases continued to rise, the UK and most of Scotland ordered strict lockdown measures from January 6, 2021. UK’s stay-at-home rules are due to be reviewed on February 15; Scotland&#39;s will be reviewed by the end of January. People are only permitted to stay out of home for a few reasons, such as work that cannot be done at home, food shopping, essential medical needs and exercise. Restaurants can continue to offer food delivery and takeaway. In order to help the most damaged sectors, the government announced a one-off grant of up to £9,000 to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, with an estimated cost of £4bn. The vaccination campaign around the country continues, as the UK rolled out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, amid a surge of new cases. In order to contain the new strain of COVID-19, several countries banned flights and other means of transport from the UK on December 21. France shut its borders to UK haulers which caused a block across the Eurochannel and collapsed surrounding roads. When the border reopened, thousands of truckers kept queuing on highways for several days.   London declared a “major incident” on January 8, because hospitals in the city were almost overwhelmed, mostly to cope with the new COVID-19 strain. On the same day, the UK reported the highest daily death toll since the pandemic began. India India approved two COVID-19 vaccines, after performing a practice drill of the logistics of the mass vaccination program on January 2. The Drugs Control Authority approved the urgent-use authorization for the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as the locally developed COVAXIN produced by Bharat Biotech. Despite the decrease in the daily infections rate since September, on December 19, India became the second country to reach 10 million COVID-19 cases. According to a recent USDA GAIN report, the weekly food retail update indicates grocery sales in Hyderabad have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Stores are able to source locally produced food. However, due to supply chain disruptions and higher costs, the amount of imported products is still limited, and sometimes results in a shortage of these products. In Chennai, grocery sales have also returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. The delivery of imported products is also limited, but there are enough stocks to meet the demand. According to the report, Indian consumers are increasingly demanding “immunity boosting” foods such as fresh fruits, nuts and spices. Japan On January 7, Japan declared the state of emergency in Tokyo until February 7, because of higher infection rates in the region. Residents are advised to stay at home, especially at night. However, compared to the latest state of emergency restrictions imposed in April, schools, gyms, theaters and cinemas, among others, are allowed to open –following certain rules. Restaurants also remain open, but less hours than usual. South Korea By the end of 2020, Korea saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. In order to curb down the number of new infections, people’s gatherings were limited to four, both indoors and outdoors. Customers of most businesses, including cafés and restaurants, are required to list their names in order to track possible COVID-19 infected people. United States The US Congress reach a deal on $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. This package includes $600 in direct payments to most US citizens and would establish $300 per week in temporary supplemental jobless benefits. In addition, this relief package is expected to provide hundreds of billions of dollars of additional aid to small businesses and provide $25 billion for rental assistance.   On January 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the continuation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, with the fifth round of over $1.5 billion food purchases. Up to date, over 3.3 billion meals were distributed to families across the nation. This program is part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which was developed in response to the pandemic. Using authority provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the USDA partnered with national, regional and local distributors, which were significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service businesses, to purchase and distribute agricultural products to US citizens in need.   On December 28, the US president signed the COVID-19 relief bill with a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits and providing direct aid to families.   On December 18, the US authorized its second COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Moderna, and nearly 6 million doses are ready to be distributed across the country. By December 24, 1 million people in the US were vaccinated. It is expected that 100 million people will be immunized by the end of the first quarter of 2021, and another 100 million by halfway of the year.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-january-13-20212021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, Launch EventThe IYFV 2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.   The FAO held the official launch event online on December 15, 2020, with FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu, opening the Year. The meeting revolved around sustainable production and trade, as well as loss and waste management.   INC member and Chair of the Dried Fruit Statistics Round Table, Guillaume Pagy, General Manager of Pagysa, Turkey, took part in the roundtable discussion as a representative of the INC and the dried fruit sector. He outlined the processing steps involved in drying fruits and highlighted the inherent sustainability of dried fruits.   Pagy emphasized that humankind has consumed dried fruits since prehistoric times; they have a long shelf life; they are easy to store and transport; they have low moisture content, providing the same nutrients as the fresh fruit equivalent, but in a much smaller package; they are versatile, they can be used in many tasty ways, and they offer important health benefits.   He concluded his speech by pointing out that dried fruits can contribute to a healthy diet by adding to the daily requirement of essential nutrients, in particular potassium, fiber and phytochemicals. They are nutrient-dense and have plenty of “healthy calories” as opposed to “empty calories”.   More information Watch the videohttps://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/2021-international-year-of-fruits-and-vegetables-launch-eventLabeling Update: January 2021EU: Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling, Proposal for a Regulation The European Commission plans to introduce a mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling scheme by the end of 2022.   As part of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a proposal for a harmonized mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling, with deadline for feedback February 3, 2021.   The aim of this consultation is to ensure better labeling information to help consumers make healthier and more sustainable food choices and tackle food waste. Specifically, the EC is proposing to introduce a standardized mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling; extend mandatory origin or provenance information for certain products; and revise the rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates).   The Commission has identified four types of front-of-pack labels currently in use or development in the EU: Nutrient-specific labels: Option 1: Numerical Option 2: Color-coded Summary labels: Option 3: Endorsement logos Option 4: Graded indicators (e.g. Nutri-Score) The assessment of options 1 to 4 will cover the impact of their use on a voluntary or a mandatory basis.   Deadline for comments: February 3, 2021.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/labeling-updatePesticides Update: January 2021Canada: MRLs Update Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has adopted the proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for oxathiapiprolin in raisins.   The PMRLs for oxathiapiprolin was adopted on December 21, 2020. As previously announced, the PMRL for oxathiapiprolin in raisins is set at 1.3 ppm. Health Canada Database EFSA: MRLs Review The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a review of the existing maximum residue levels for quinoxyfen according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.   Although this active substance is no longer authorized within the European Union, MRLs were established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and an import tolerance was reported by Member States (including the supporting residues data). Based on the assessment of the available data, EFSA assessed the Codex Maximum Residue Limits (CXLs) and import tolerance requested, and carried out a consumer risk assessment. All CXLs and import tolerance were found to be adequately supported by data and no risk to consumers was identified.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Quinoxyfen Grapes 1 2 Recommended. MRL is derived from the existing CXL, which is supported by data and for which no risk to consumers is identified; there are no relevant authorizations or import tolerances reported at EU level. EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for quinoxyfen according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(12):6316 EU: Pesticides, Extension of Approval Periods The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2007 of 8 December 2020 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the extension of the approval periods of the several active substances listed below:   1-decanol, 1,4-dimethylnaphthalene, 6-benzyladenine, acequinocyl, Adoxophyes orana granulovirus, aluminium sulfate, amisulbrom, Aureobasidium pullulans (strains DSM 14940 and DSM 14941), azadirachtin, Bacillus pumilus QST 2808, benalaxyl-M, bixafen, bupirimate, Candida oleophila strain O, chlorantraniliprole, disodium phosphonate, dithianon, dodine, emamectin, flubendiamide, fluometuron, fluxapyroxad, flutriafol, hexythiazox, imazamox, ipconazole, isoxaben, L-ascorbic acid, lime sulphur, orange oil, Paecilomyces fumosoroseus strain FE 9901, pendimethalin, penflufen, penthiopyrad, potassium phosphonates, prosulfuron, Pseudomonas sp. strain DSMZ 13134, pyridalyl, pyriofenone, pyroxsulam, quinmerac, S-abscisic acid, sedaxane, sintofen, sodium silver thiosulfate, spinetoram, spirotetramat, Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108, tau-fluvalinate, tebufenozide, tembotrione, thiencarbazone, valifenalate, and zinc phosphide.   This regulation entered into force on December 11, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2007 of 8 December 2020 In addition, the EC published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2105 of 15 December 2020 renewing the approval of the active substance etoxazole as a candidate for substitution in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   The approval periods of this active substance is extended until January 31, 2028. This regulation entered into force on January 5, 2021.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2105 of 15 December 2020 EU: Pesticide Withdrawals The approval of the active substance mancozeb has not been renewed (see previous post here). On December 15, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2087 of 14 December 2020 concerning the non-renewal of the approval of the active substance mancozeb, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011.   Member States shall withdraw authorizations for plant protection products containing mancozeb as an active substance at the latest by July 4, 2021. However, any grace period granted by Member States in accordance with Article 46 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 shall expire at the latest by January 4, 2022. This Regulation entered into force on January 4, 2020. Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2087 of 14 December 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-january-2021Organic Production: January 2021EU: Importing Organic Produce On December 23, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2196 of 17 December 2020 amending Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008 laying down detailed rules for implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 as regards the arrangements for imports of organic products from third countries.   This Regulation amends Annex III and IV of the Regulation 1235/2008. In the Annex III, the list of recognized countries is updated for some countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and United States). Annex IV, which compiles the list of recognized control bodies and control authorities for the purpose of equivalence, has been also updated. In addition, several control bodies have been recognized to carry out controls and issues certificates in the UK as a third country. This regulation entered into force on December 30, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/2196 of 17 December 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/organic-production-january-2021Food Safety Update: January 2021Tanzania: Almond Oil, Standards The Bureau of Standards of Tanzania notified the World Trade Organization of the AFDC 4(293) CD3 Edible Almond oil – Specification.   This Standard specifies the requirements, sampling and testing methods for almond oil intended for human consumption.   The deadline for comments is February 6, 2021.   Edible Almond oil – Specification Tanzania: Cashew butter, Standards The Tanzania Bureau of Standards notified the World Trade Organization of the AFDC 4(292) CD3 Cashew butter – Specification.   This Standard details requirements, methods of sampling and testing for cashew butter derived from kernels of cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale L.) intended for human consumption.   The deadline for comments is February 6, 2021.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. USA: Food Traceability As previously notified, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack or hold foods the Agency has designated for inclusion on the Food Traceability List. The comment periods for the proposed rule and information collection provisions have been extended and will now be available for public comment until February 22, 2021.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-january-2021Nutrition Update: January 2021USA: Dietary Guidelines On December 29, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.   The Guidelines are aimed to provide science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, help reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.   For adults ages 19 through 59, it is recommended consumption of 5 ounce equivalent per week of ‘Nuts, Seeds, Soy Products’ for patterns at 2,000-2,600 calories per day.   2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/nutrition-update-january-2021Official Controls Update: January 2021Chile: Peanuts from Brazil On December 21, 2020, the Agriculture and Livestock Service of Chile opened a public consultation on the import requirements for in-shell peanuts of Arachis hypogaea L. from Brazil.   Among others, the import phytosanitary requirements establish that the shipment must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the phytosanitary authority of the country of origin, declaring the treatment used (product, doses, time of exposure, temperature and date).   The deadline for comments is February 21, 2021.   More information  China, Taiwan: Phytosanitary Certificates The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu notified the World Trade Organization of the extension of the Implementation Period of the Temporary Alternative Arrangements of the Presentation of Original Veterinary and Phytosanitary Certificates in the Condition of COVID-19 Pandemic.   As previously notified, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu implemented alternative arrangements to the presentation of original veterinary or phytosanitary certificates. In consideration of the global COVID-19 situation, the implementation period for the abovementioned measure was extended again until June 30, 2021. India: Foreign Food Manufacturing Facilities The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Import) Amendment Regulation, relating to the inclusion of registration and inspection of Foreign Food manufacturing facilities.   The Food Authority may from time to time based on the risk specify the categories of food products to be exported to India, for which inspection or audit of Foreign Food manufacturing facilities producing such categories of foods shall be mandatory.   The final date for comments is January 25, 2021.   FSSAI Notification https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-update-january-2021Latest Trade News and Agreements: January 2021EU-UK: Trade and Cooperation Agreement On December 30, 2020, the EU and the UK reached a Trade and Cooperation Agreement.   After years of intensive negotiations, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on the terms of the future bilateral relationship after the end of the transition period. This agreement applies on a provisional basis for a limited period of time, from January 1, 2021, until February 28, 2021, before its bilateral adoption.   The agreement consists of three main pillars: 1) a free trade agreement, 2) a new partnership for citizens’ security, and 3) a horizontal agreement on governance.   The Free Trade Agreement provides zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. In addition to this, the agreement also covers areas such as investment, competition, State aid, tax transparency, air and road transport, energy and sustainability, fisheries, data protection, and social security coordination, among others. On transport, the agreement provides for continued and sustainable air, road, rail and maritime connectivity. It also includes provisions to ensure that competition between EU and UK operators takes place on a level playing field, so that passenger rights, workers&#39; rights and transport safety are not undermined.   The agreement provides binding enforcement and dispute settlement mechanisms, in order to ensure that the rights of businesses, consumers and individuals are respected.   However, the differences between this agreement compared to the EU’s Customs Union and the Single Market are the following: From January 1, 2021, the UK left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. The free movement of persons, goods, services and capital between the UK and the EU ended. The EU and the UK form two separate markets; two distinct regulatory and legal spaces. Subject to a financial UK’s contribution to the EU budget, the agreement also enables the UK&#39;s continued participation in certain flagship EU programs for 2021-2027 period, such as Horizon Europe.   EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: Council adopts decision on the signing Signature of the EU-UK agreement, 30 December 2020   Questions & Answers: EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement UK: New Approach on US Tariffs On December 8, 2020, the United Kingdom set out its independent approach to trade disputes between the EU and the United States.   The UK will rollover tariffs in response to ‘Section 232’ tariffs imposed by the US on aluminum and steel imports. In addition to this, the Department for International Trade will launch a consultation to ensure these tariffs are in accordance with the UK’s interests.   In parallel, the UK will suspend retaliatory tariffs resulting from the Boeing dispute, imposed by the EU on certain US-origin goods on November 10, 2020 (see previous post). However, the Government of the UK reserves the right to impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made.   Both announcements are part of the Government’s strategy to de-escalate trade tensions and move forward to the next phase of the trading relationship between the UK and the US.   UK announces new approach on US tariffs UK: Rules of Origin of EU products On December 29, 2020, the United Kingdom published guidance regarding rules of origin for goods moving between the UK and EU.   This document provides detailed guidance on the rules of origin requirements under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The guidance explains the most important provisions which both UK and EU businesses need to understand and comply with, in order to ensure that they pay zero tariffs.   The Trade and Cooperation Agreement: detailed guidance on the rules of origin UK-Singapore: Trade Continuity Agreement On December 10, the United Kingdom and Singapore signed a Continuity Trade Agreement.   Singapore is the UK’s largest trading partner in South-East Asia. Consequently, this continuity agreement will keep the benefits of the existing trading relationship, worth £17.6 billion last year.   Both countries also announced their intention to launch negotiations for a ground-breaking Digital Economy Agreement (DEA). This would be the first DEA that Singapore has struck with a European country. Singapore and the UK are both global leaders in the digital economy and about 70% of UK services exports were delivered remotely to Singapore last year, worth £3.2 billion.   UK-Singapore: Trade Continuity Agreement UK-Turkey: Trade Deal On December 29, 2020, the United Kingdom and Turkey signed a trade deal aimed to secure the previous EU-Turkey preferential tariffs.   Both countries committed to start negotiations for a more ambitious free trade agreement in the future, which will go further than the existing deal. The trading relationship between the two countries was worth £18.6 billion in 2019.   UK and Turkey sign trade deal UK-Vietnam: Free Trade Agreement On December 11, 2020, the United Kingdom and Vietnam concluded their Free Trade Agreement.   This agreement ensures the continuity of the existing trading relationship through the EU-Vietnam Agreement. Companies can continue to benefit from reduced tariffs on imports and exports, from increased access to services and from the protection of key British and Vietnamese products. This includes 65% of all tariffs that have already been eliminated on UK-Vietnam trade. This will increase to 99% of tariffs by the time of full implementation. The FTA also incorporates clean growth and sustainable development.   This agreement is also a key step towards the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). As a founding member of the group, Vietnam has welcomed the UK’s interest in joining the CPTPP agreement and publicly shown their support for the UK’s accession to the CPTPP in the future. Accession to the CPTPP is a priority for the UK Government, which plans to apply for this in early 2021. CPTPP is one of the most important free trade agreements in the world, accounting for 13% of global GDP in 2019. This would rise to 16% of global GDP if the UK joins the partnership.   Joint statement by the UK and Vietnam https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-january-2021COVID-19 Update: December 16, 2020The first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 was the UK and, on December 10, the US authorized it for emergency-use. The first inoculations in both countries began shortly after.   There are more than 80 known agreements between drug makers and countries to deliver the first batches of vaccines, as soon as the corresponding approvals are granted. A total of five different vaccines are currently available in six countries at least.   Despite the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic is far from over: Global COVID-19 cases surpassed 70.4 million. In the Americas, there are more than 30 million cases, over 21 million in Europe, more than 11 million cases in South-East Asia, and over 1.6 million in Africa. The worst hit countries are the US, India and Brazil. The upcoming holidays are expected to include lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions in most regions. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom remarked at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that despite COVID-19 is a global health crisis, it has implications in every area of the UN work. Not all countries have responded equally to the pandemic, and have not been affected equally either. Many nations succeeded in preventing or containing widespread transmission of COVID-19 with proven public health tools.   Dr. Adhanom highlighted four key areas in which the leadership of nations is vital to end the pandemic and build the post-pandemic world: 1) invest in vaccines to end the pandemic; 2) invest in preparedness to prevent the next pandemic; 3) invest in health as the foundation of peace and prosperity; and 4) invest in multilateralism to safeguard our common future. UNCTAD According to a recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the least developed countries (LDCs) will experience their worst economic performance in 30 years in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LDCs are collectively the world’s most vulnerable economies, with weak levels of resilience. In addition to this, they have the least financial and institutional means to react to external shocks such as the ongoing pandemic. Some of the consequences are falling income levels, widespread employment losses and widening fiscal deficits.   Rebuilding these economies post-COVID will be especially difficult if their production capacities are not improved. Structural barriers include widespread poverty, overdependence on imports of critical goods and services, and overly concentrated export markets. The UNCTAD calls the international community to support these vulnerable economies with an action plan for the development of productive capacities. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) held the conference “COVID-19 Pandemic in Developing Countries”, which highlighted that the economic outlook significantly worsened in some emerging markets and low-income countries with a rapid rise of new infections. These economies may incur to a greater output loss over 2020-2021, compared to the pre-pandemic projections when compared to advanced economies.   According to the IMF, some measures to contain the spread of the virus have led to sharp declines in economic activity across the globe, particularly in the second quarter of 2020. The IMF “Economic Prospects and Policy Challenges for the GCC Countries” notes that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries face a double impact: from the COVID-19 pandemic and from lower oil prices. GCC authorities have implemented several measures to mitigate the economic damage, including fiscal packages, relaxation of monetary and macroprudential rules, and the injection of liquidity into the banking system. Low oil prices have caused a sharp deterioration of external and fiscal balances, and fiscal strains are evident in countries with higher debt levels. WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) received a petition asking for universally accessible and affordable COVID-19 vaccines. Over 900,000 individuals from around the world have signed the petition, which asks all governments, WTO members and pharmaceutical companies to “ensure access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment for everyone in the world”.   A recent speech by WTO Deputy Director-General, Yonov Frederick Agah, highlights that trade is expected to play a key role to help Africa mitigate the impact of the pandemic and to improve living standards. According to Agah, the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) could set the continent on a path for renewed growth. The AfCFTA has great potential in boosting intra-African trade, making it easier for businesses across the continent to integrate into global supply chains.   A recent WTO report titled “Annual overview of trade-related developments” indicates a decline in trade restrictions by WTO members. The report reflects the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on trade and trade policy more in depth than the previous report issued in July 2020, which captured the early effects of the pandemic. Although world trade was slowing before the COVID-19 outbreak, merchandise exports in nominal USD terms were down 21% in the second quarter, compared to 2019. The report also provides information about several trade-facilitating and support measures introduced by WTO economies in response to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.  OECD According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), gross domestic product (GDP) in OECD countries rebounded by 9% in the third quarter of 2020. However, it remains 4.3% below the pre-pandemic high. Among the major seven economies, the rebound was more strong in those economies that also suffered the sharpest GDP falls in the second quarter, such as France, which GDP rebounded over 18%, Italy which saw a 16.1% increase, and the UK with a 15.5% rebound.   The OECD issued its “Economic Outlook, December 2020”, which highlights that faster vaccine development together with better cooperation for its distribution would boost confidence and lower uncertainty. The vaccination campaigns, other health policies and government financial support are expected to lift global GDP by 4.2% in 2021 after a fall of 4.2% in 2020. However, possible delays in the vaccination development, together with the high probability of new COVID-19 outbreaks would weaken the previsions. The recovery is likely to be gradual. OECD’s recommendations to governments are: strengthening public health policies, and support people and businesses. INC Executive Committee Take on the Industry and COVID-19 On December 10, 2020, the Executive Committee of the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council virtually convened to discuss, exchange views, and look forward to 2021. One section of this meeting was to highlight the state of the industry globally, as well as give a brief glance into what this winter and next year might bring.   The meeting examined the current state of the industry with inputs from all of the committee members, representing nearly every region of the world. The overarching theme and takeaway was that the nut and dried fruit sector has been able to withstand the global health crisis. While food service consumption dropped significantly over the course of the year, the retail and in-home consumption was able to offset the decrease. Taking all of that into account, the consumption was overall positive. On the other hand, the committee agreed that COVID-19 had dragged down the logistical side of the industry, but as the pandemic is brought under control with vaccines and other public health measures, ideally there would be a return normality with respect to logistics.   Looking into the coming months and years, the committee expressed optimism for even stronger consumption numbers for 2021. In general, with extremely strong production and supply figures, the prices for nuts and dried fruits are historically low. While this price has not been reflected yet on the shelves of retail stores, at some point in 2021, they will adjust. Once they come into equilibrium, these lower prices should give way to increases in consumption across all of the products under the INC umbrella.   By the end of the discussion, the key highlights from the discussion were clear; the nut and dried fruit industry held up strong during 2020 with retail consumption balancing out the decrease within the food service sector and, as 2021 approaches, low prices give reason for belief that consumption will be strong this coming year. Australia Australia’s Victoria eased COVID-19 restrictions on December 6. The de-escalation includes public gatherings of up to 100 people, with density rules of one person per two square meters, and 50% of office workers will be allowed to return to workplaces by January 11, 2021, among other measures. However, face masks remain mandatory at indoor venues and public transport.   Regarding international travel, Australia has extended the restrictions on overseas travel until March 2021, extending the emergency period by three months. The emergency period rules include limiting cruise ship’s movement and outbound international travel.  Brazil Brazil registered the highest COVID-19 death toll in almost a month. Quarantine orders were previously relaxed, which led to crowded bars and restaurants in certain cities. Experts worry that with the upcoming holiday season, the number of new cases is likely to increase due to greater social movement. China China is expected to have 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines ready for market by the end of 2020. Three inactivated vaccines are in the final stage of clinical trials. Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan told Chinese vaccine makers to get ready for mass production. In addition to this, Chunland said that the vaccination of high-risk groups should be finalized before the end of the year.   Hong Kong’s financial chief has warned that the city should be on COVID-19 alert during 2021, if vaccines are unable to eradicate all infections.  EU The European Council recently approved a set of conclusions on debt relief efforts for African countries. The conclusions highlight the increasing debt vulnerability in low income countries, especially in Africa, and recognize further debt relief for countries with unsustainable debt levels. In addition to this, the Council welcomed the G20 Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers a temporary debt moratorium to the poorest countries to help them manage the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council welcomed the extension of the DSSI until 30 June 2021 with the possibility of a further extension of six months.   On December 3, 2020, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel proposed an international treaty on pandemics within the framework of the WHO. In case of future pandemics, an international treaty, anchored in collective mobilization and solidarity, would enable the international community to better anticipate, prepare for and manage epidemics. The success of this collective action has been demonstrated in developing safe and effective vaccines in record time. The areas such a treaty could address are: 1) risk monitoring, 2) better financing and coordination of research, 3) a more efficient system of alerts and information sharing, 4) improving access to healthcare, 5) resilience: strengthening healthcare systems and securing supply chains.   On December 7, the European Council greenlighted a temporary VAT relief on COVID-19 vaccines and test kits, in order to ensure affordable access. Member States will allow a temporary VAT exemption of the aforementioned products, as well as closely related services until December 31, 2022.   The conclusions of the European Council meeting of December 10-11 highlighted that the arrival of vaccines does not mean the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is a positive step towards this goal. The Council commits to strengthening coordination, especially for the gradual lifting of restrictions when the public health situation improves. Vaccination should be treated as a public good, and the Council stresses the importance of preparations for a timely distribution. In addition to this, increased resilience in the area of health is needed, including the proposals for a Health Union.   The European Council presidency reached a political agreement with the European Parliament in order to adopt its next multiannual framework program for research and innovation. Horizon Europe is set to help overcome major global challenges, such as COVID-19 and climate change. The program for the period 2021-2027 contains the following main elements: 1) budgetary issues, which include additional funds; 2) synergies with other EU programs; and 3) international cooperation and association of third countries.  Belgium From December 18, Belgium is expected to reimpose compulsory 10-day quarantines for international travelers from COVID-19 high-risk countries. A large number of European countries remain in COVID-19 high-risk zones, which means that most EU travelers will be required to self-isolate or get tested upon arrival. Belgium authorities have obliged travelers during the recent months to follow quarantine rules to prevent the further spread of the disease.  France France planned to lift stay-at-home orders on December 15, after performing massive testing. A daily curfew from 8:00 pm until 06:00 am is applicable until mid-December. However, the curfew will not be lifted for New Year’s Eve celebrations to prevent massive gatherings of people. The Government conditioned the easing of restrictions on a decrease of new cases. The opening of cultural venues has also been delayed until the end of the year.  Germany The Government agreed to implement a stricter lockdown starting on December 16, forcing all non-essential businesses to close until January 10, 2021. Previously, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tougher COVID-19 restrictions, especially as the holiday season approached. The call included an extended holiday school break, the closure of non-essential businesses, and a strong recommendation on working from home.   In addition to this, certain regions like Bavaria are planning to impose curfews in some hotspots, due to an increase in COVID-19 infections. The southern state of Baden-Württemberg has imposed a curfew from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am, as well as strict movement limits during the day.  Greece In order to avoid further spread of the COVID-19 disease, Greece imposed mandatory 10-day quarantines to international travelers upon arrival. Students returning home and business travelers will also be required to self-isolate. In addition to this, Greece lockdown measures will be extended until January 7, 2021, with schools, sports venues, courts, bars, restaurants and other venues closed until then.  Italy Italy became Europe’s first COVID-19 hotspot in spring, and was the first EU country that imposed lockdown measures. Consequently, the number of new infections decreased in summer. However, during the first half of December, the country reported a record-high number of daily deaths. At this moment, Italy is the second highest COVID-19 hotspot in the EU, after France, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.   The country is set to adopt tighter restrictions over the end of the year holiday season, in order to prevent a third wave of infections. These restrictions include banning travel between regions from December 21 to January 6, 2021. The limitations also include a ban on leaving one’s home town on December 25 and 26, and on January 1, 2021. The country still applies curfew measures, from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am (extended to 7 am on New Year’s Day). The Netherlands As of December 15, travelers who are exempt from the EU travel ban, and who are not from countries on the EU list of low-risk regions, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result, and a signed declaration in order to enter the Netherlands. These requirements do not apply to EU or Schengen countries nationals, including the Netherlands, but it does apply to nationals of Indonesia.  Spain During the first half of December, COVID-19 incidence rate in Spain was in a downward phase. The 14-day cumulative number per 100,000 inhabitants was 189 on December 10. However, the number is far from the authorities’ goal of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and there are concerns regarding the holiday season, which could lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases.   In order to prevent the spread of the virus, the Government has asked citizens to stay at home during the upcoming holiday season. Inter regional travel may be allowed between December 23 and January 6 only in some areas. On December 24, 25 and 31, and on January 1, 2021, social gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, instead of the current 6 people limitation. United Kingdom After the UK’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, the country began its biggest vaccination program. People over 80 are the first ones to get vaccinated in the following days. India According to a recent USDA GAIN report, India’s trade volumes have not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, as the overall trade volumes fell 12% from April to October, compared to the same period last year. From March to October, container freight rates increased nearly 70% due to trade disruptions and shortage of containers. However, in October trade volumes increased a 5% compared to September. In Mumbai, the average port dwell time for import containers has improved to 19 hours. Tuticorin port prepared for Cyclone Burevi, to avoid possible damage as well as disruptions in port operations. In Chennai, after the Cyclone Nivar, port operations are back to normality. Cochin port reported slow truck movements.   Food inflation in New Delhi surpassed 11% in October, a six-year high, because of excess rains that damaged crops, in addition to higher cost edible oil imports. In Chennai, Koyambedu market opened its retail and semi-wholesale shops after being closed for seven months. However, the market is only operating at 27% capacity, as many workers remain in their home villages. In Bengaluru, vegetable prices declined reflecting the fact that both transportation and production conditions are returning to normal after lengthy COVID-19 restrictions.   According to another GAIN report, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the consumption of almonds and walnuts in India, due to their nutritional benefits which are being used to tackle the pandemic. These consumer behavior changes are expected to last even after the development of COVID-19 vaccines.   India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by July 2021. However, the vaccination of over 1.3 billion people in the country in a short period of time may entail distribution problems.  Japan On December 10, Japan hit a record of COVID-19 infections. The increase of new cases has been registered in free of clusters’ areas, and after the closure of restaurants and other establishments from 10:00 pm became mandatory. Large cities in the island of Hokkaido and urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka have seen rising coronavirus cases since November.  South Korea South Korea, like many Asian countries, performed well during the pandemic. However, unlike many countries, such good performance did not entail lockdown measures, which were rejected early as they were considered too costly to people and businesses. Furthermore, in September the OECD projected that the Korean economy will contract by only 1% in 2020, compared with an average decline of 4.1% in G-20 countries. Unemployment is about 4%, higher than before the pandemic but far below the levels of other major economies.  United States The US approved the COVID-19 vaccine on December 10. Thousands of doses arrived at 50 states and inoculations began shortly after. The US plans to distribute 40 million vaccine doses by the end of the year, and 50 to 80 million in the beginning of 2021. However, experts warn that during the winter holidays the pandemic is likely to worsen before the majority of the population receives the vaccine.   Following the Thanksgiving holiday, the US hit a record 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases, adding more than one million new cases in the first five days of December. For this reason, hospitals are overwhelmed. Healthy, non-elderly Americans with no known underlying health conditions will likely start getting vaccinated in late March to early April. The first people to be vaccinated by the end of December, would be health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Recently, New York City’s number of COVID-19 cases hit the highest levels since May. In addition to this, certain areas of California announced new confinement measures, which affect tens of million people.   US president-elect Joe Biden announced he would ask citizens to commit to wearing face masks for 100 days, in order to curb down the surge of new COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, face coverings would be mandatory in federal buildings and public transportation.       The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-december-16-2020New Personalized Experience for INC Academia 2021Personalized Nut & Dried Fruit Education The Third Edition of the Executive Program on Nuts and Dried Fruits was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across our world. Even now, almost a year into the global health crisis, things are not as they were both. Nevertheless, the 2020 Edition is finishing strong with a total of 64 students from 26 countries. Given this success, the INC continues to work hard to provide an unparalleled learning experience for students of the INC Academia.   With all of that in mind, for 2021, the INC has searched for new topics of special interest and has expanded its training offer. New to 2021, INC Academia students will now be able to select between two self-paced training tracks: General Industry Track and Specialized Elective Track.  General Industry Track The General Industry Track will provide students with a basic overview of the entire nut and dried fruit industry. The track is presented as a full package that combines online lessons, with reading materials, videos, and self-assessment tests, plus an optional intensive On-site course that includes technical visits, networking, and learning through case studies. Students will have the possibility to only undertake the online portion of the full package. Due to COVID-19, information regarding the on-site course will be made available later on. The online program consists of 12 units, 10 of which are required, and 2 that are electives. The 10 required units cover topics like soil and climate, varieties, nutrition facts, processing, food safety, quality standards, and industry statistics, among other subjects. Specialized Elective Track This track enables students to pick their courses from a list of 4 specialized courses. From this list, students can select the 2 elective courses that are required to complete the General Industry Track. The topics that are available with the Specialized Elective Track include:   Arbitration rules International market opportunities Cross-cultural negotiations Risk & insurance For more information, click here.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/new-personalized-experience-for-inc-academia-2021Pesticides Update: DecemberAustralia: MRLS Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued the proposal to amend Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (November 17, 2020). Among other changes, the table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The MRL for acequinocyl in apricots, dried, and prunes set at 1 ppm is omitted. The MRL for fludioxonil in dried grapes (currants, raisins and sultanas) set at 5 ppm is omitted. The MRL for pydiflumetofen in dried grapes (currants, raisins and sultanas) set at 5 ppm is omitted. The deadline for comments is December 14, 2020. The proposal can be found here (pp. 17-22). Brazil: MRLs Update The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has notified the World Trade Organization of the draft resolutions regarding the active ingredients M45-Mandipropamid, F66-Flubendiamide, A38-Acibenzolar-S-methyl, C58-Alpha-cypermethrin, C20-Chlorpyrifos and G01-Glyphosate of the Monograph List of Active Ingredients for Pesticides, Household Cleaning Products and Wood Preservers, published by Resolution RE n° 165 of 29 August 2003, on the Official Gazette (DOU Diário Oficial da União) of 2 September 2003. The MRL for mandipropamid in macadamia nuts culture is set at 2.0 ppm with a safety security period of 1 day. In grape culture, the MRL is set at 0.6 ppm with a safety security period of 7 days. The MRL for flubendiamide in peanuts changes from 0.01 to 0.07 ppm. The MRL for acibenzolar-S-methyl in Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecan nuts and pine nuts I set at 0.2 ppm with a safety security period of 1 day. The MRL for alpha-cypermethrin in peanuts is set at 0.05 ppm with a safety security period of 15 days. The MRL for chlorpyrifos in peanuts is set at 0.1 ppm with a safety security period of 25 days. The MRL for glyphosate in pecan nuts is set at 0.1 ppm with a safety security period of 15 days. The final date for comments is January 9, 2021.   M45-Mandipropamid  Canada: MRLs Update Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for carfentrazone-ethyl. The PMRL proposed in Tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is 0.10 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 24, 2021.   Consultation on Carfentrazone-ethyl, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL 2020-41 In addition, new maximum residue limit (PMRL) for carfentrazone-ethyl and pydiflumetofen were proposed.   The PMRL for carfentrazone-ethyl in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is set at 0.10 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 24, 2021.   The PMRL for pydiflumetofen in dried prune plums is set at 1.0 ppm and in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) at 0.07 ppm. The deadline for comments is February 8, 2021.   Consultation on Carfentrazone-ethyl, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL 2020-41 Consultation on Pydiflumetofen, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL 2020-44 EU: Pesticides, Extension of Approval Periods The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1643 of 5 November 2020 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the approval periods of the active substances calcium phosphide, denathonium benzoate, haloxyfop-P, imidacloprid, pencycuron and zeta-cypermethrin.   This regulation entered into force on November 26, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1643 of 5 November 2020 EU: MRLs Update  The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1633 of 27 October 2020 amending Annexes II, III, IV and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for azinphos-methyl, bentazone, dimethomorph, fludioxonil, flufenoxuron, oxadiazon, phosalone, pyraclostrobin, repellants: tall oil and teflubenzuron in or on certain products. As previously announced, the Regulation establishes the following MRLs: The MRL for azinphos-methyl in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for oxadiazon in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pyraclostrobin in grapes is set at 0.3 ppm. EU: MRLs Update, Draft Commission Regulations The European Commission notified the World Trade Organization of the two Draft Commission Regulations amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels.   As regards maximum residue levels in nuts and dried fruits for clethodim, dazomet, hexythiazox, metam and sethoxydim in or on certain products, the following MRL are amended (see previous post): The MRL for clethodim in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is lowered from 0.1 to 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metam in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is lowered from 0.02* to 0.01* ppm. The MRL for hexythiazox in tree nuts is lowered from 0.5 ppm to 0.05 ppm; in apricots is lowered from 1 ppm to 0.7 ppm; in plums is increased from 0.5 ppm to 0.7 ppm; in cranberries, figs and peanuts is lowered from 0.5 ppm to 0.01* ppm. The MRL for sethoxydim in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm; and in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.01* ppm.   The deadline for comments is January 4, 2021. The proposed date of adoption is July 2021. It is expected to be published in October 2021.   As regards maximum residue levels in nuts and dried fruits for ametoctradin, bixafen, fenazaquin, spinetoram, tefluthrin and thiencarbazone-methyl in or on certain products, the following MRL are amended:   The MRL for fenazaquin is lowered from 0.2 to 0.01* ppm in grapes. The MRL for spinetoram is lowered from 0.05* to 0.02* ppm in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts; and from 0.5 to 0.4 ppm in grapes. The MRL for tefluthrin is lowered from 0.05 to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs, and peanuts. The MRL for thiencarbazone-methyl is set at 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs, and peanuts.   The deadline for comments is January 12, 2021. The proposed date of adoption is February 2021. It is expected to be published in March 2021. EU: Pesticides, Renewal Procedures On November 23, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1740 of 20 November 2020 setting out the provisions necessary for the implementation of the renewal procedure for active substances.   This Regulation establishes rules on the procedure for the renewal of the approval of active substances within the meaning of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, and shall apply to the renewal of the approval of active substances whose approval period ends on or after March 27, 2024. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1740 of 20 November 2020 Japan: MRLs Update The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the Revision of the Standards and Specifications for Foods and Food Additives under the Food Sanitation Act (revision of agricultural chemical residue standards).   As for nuts and dried fruits, the following MRLs were proposed: The MRL for cartap, thiocyclam and bensultap in apricot, cranberry, date, pecan, almond, walnut, and other nuts is lowered from 3 ppm to 0.01 ppm; and in grape from 3 ppm to 2 ppm. The deadline for comments in January 5, 2021. The MRL for myclobutanil in apricot is increased from 2 ppm to 3 ppm; in Japanese plum (including prune) from 0.5 ppm to 2 ppm; and in raisin from 0.01 ppm to 6 ppm. However, in cranberry and date is lowered from 1 ppm to 0.01 ppm; and in grape from 1 ppm to 0.9 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 19, 2021. The MRL for deltamethrin and tralomethrin in grape is lowered from 0.7 ppm to 0.6 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 19, 2021. In addition, the MRLs for dieldrin, benfuracarb, carbofuran and carbaryl previously notified were adopted and published on July 14, 2020. The MRL for dieldrin in peanuts, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts is lowered from 0.06 ppm to 0.05 ppm; in apricot, cranberry and date from 0.05 ppm to 0.01 ppm. In addition, in grape is newly set at 0.01 ppm. The MRL for benfuracarb in peanuts is lowered from 0.3 ppm to 0.02 ppm; in apricot, cranberry, grape, date, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts from 0.5 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for carbofuran in peanuts is lowered from 0.2 ppm to 0.1 ppm; in apricot, cranberry, grape, date, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts from 0.3 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for carbaryl in peanuts is lowered from 5 ppm to 0.05 ppm; in apricot from 10 ppm to 0.01 ppm; in cranberry form 7 ppm to 5 ppm; in grape from 1.0 ppm to 0.01 ppm; and in date from 2 ppm to 0.01 ppm. For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. USA: MRLs Update The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established tolerances for residues of mefenoxam and indoxacarb in or on multiple commodities.   Among others, the tolerance of mefenoxam in tree nut, crop group 14-12 is set at 0.3 ppm. This regulation is effective since November 13, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before January 12, 2021.   The tolerance of indoxacarb in tree nut, crop group 14-12 is set at 0.08 ppm. This regulation is effective since November 16, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before January 15, 2021.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 220. Friday, November 13, 2020. Pages 72571-72574 Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 221. Monday, November 16, 2020. Pages 72968-72971https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-decemberSustainability Update: December 2020EU: Reducing Packaging Waste Open Consultation The European Commission (EC) opened a public consultation about the action plan for the development of EU organic production.   Within the EU Action Plan for a circular economy, the EC identified plastics as a key priority confirmed it would focus on plastics production and use and work towards the goal of ensuring that all plastic packaging is recyclable by 2030.   The EC will review the requirements on packaging and packaging waste in the EU. This will include assessing how to improve packaging design to promote reuse and recycling, increase recycled content in packaging, tackle excessive packaging, and reduce packaging waste.   The purpose of the consultation is to gather views from citizens and stakeholders on possible measures to review the Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste. The deadline for submitting comments is January 6, 2021.   Reducing packaging waste – review of rules   USA: Impacts of the EU F2F and Biodiversity Strategies The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) published the report Economic and Food Security Impacts of Agricultural Input Reduction Under the European Union Green Deal’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. This report examines the economic implications of the EU Green Deal’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. To do that, the study focused on several selected agricultural input reductions specified in the Strategies: reduction of pesticide use by 50%, reduction of fertilizer use by 20%, reduction of antimicrobial use for livestock by 50%, and removal of 10% of existing farmland from agricultural use.   The study concludes that the EC’s 10-year plan of targeted reductions in the use of land, antimicrobials, fertilizers, and pesticides would lead to a reduction in EU agricultural production and reduce its competitiveness in domestic and export markets. If the plan were adopted beyond the EU, those impacts would also expand with consequences for worldwide welfare and food insecurity.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/sustainability-update-decemberOrganic Production: DecemberEU: Organic Agriculture The European Commission has published the following regulations:   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1667 of 10 November 2020 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/977 as regards the period of application of the temporary measures in relation to controls on the production of organic products. The temporary measures provided in the Regulation 2020/977 shall apply until February 1, 2022.  Regulation (EU) 2020/1693 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 November 2020 amending Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic production and labelling of organic products as regards its date of application and certain other dates referred to in that Regulation. This Regulation modifies the date of application of the Regulation 2018/848, which establishes a new regulatory framework for organic production. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/organic-production-decemberOfficial Controls Update: DecemberChile: Pistachios from California The Agriculture and Livestock Service of Chile notified the World Trade Organization of the phytosanitary requirements for the importation of pistachio trees (Pistacia vera) from California.   Among other requirements, shipments must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), declaring that the shipment has been treated against insects and mites (name of the substance, treatment, dose…).   The deadline for comments is January 29, 2021.   Draft (in Spanish)https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-update-decemberLatest Trade News and Agreements: DecemberEU-US: Additional Tariffs On November 10, 2020, the EU applied retaliatory tariffs on certain US origin products as a response to the Airbus-Boeing dispute.   The countermeasures have been agreed by EU Member States –the US has not provided the basis for a negotiated settlement yet. The European Commission said it is willing to settle this dispute with the US and also to agree on long-term disciplines on aircraft subsidies.   The products subject to additional tariffs include, among others:   HS Code Description Additional Tariff 0802 90 85 Other 25% 0804 10 00         Dates 25% 1202 41 00 Peanuts, in-shell 25% 1202 42 00 Peanuts, shelled 25% 2008 19 99 Roasted nuts, other 25%   Background:   On October 13, 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowed the EU to raise tariffs of up to $4 billion US imports as a countermeasure for subsides to the US aircraft maker, Boeing. Previously, in October 2019, the WTO allowed the US to take countermeasures against EU exports worth up to $7.5 billion, which were imposed on October 18, 2019. Nuts and dried fruits were not included among the products  (see previous post).   Press release: Boeing WTO case: The EU puts in place countermeasures against U.S. exports Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1646 of November 7, 2020  EU-China: Geographical Indications On November 23, the European Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and the government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and protection of geographical indications (GIs).   A list of 100 EU and 100 Chinese agri-food GI’s will be legally protected, ensuring mutual respect of agricultural traditions of both parties. Regarding nuts and dried fruits, the following recognition has been granted: China will recognize EU’s GI of the following good: Pruneaux d&#39;Agen The EU will guarantee the Chinese GI of the following products: Hongyazi Peanut Junan Peanut Lincang Macadamia Boli Pine Nut Neihuang Peanut Zhengyang Peanut   It is expected that the agreement will enter into force at the beginning of 2021.   EU-China: Council gives final green light to the agreement on geographical indications EU-New Zealand: Future Trade Agreement The ninth round of negotiations for an EU-New Zealand trade agreement was held from November 23-30, 2020.   The outcome of this round of negotiations is a provisional agreement on two additional chapters: ‘Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)’ and ‘Capital Movements’. Both parties also held thorough discussions covering the majority of the areas of the future agreement.   EU and New Zealand reach provisional agreement on two more chapters of future trade agreement EU-Eastern and Southern African Countries: EPA Negotiations The third round of negotiations to deepen the existing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with five Eastern and Southern African partners (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe) was held from November 24-27, 2020.   The parties progressed on the issues already discussed in the first two rounds: customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, food safety and plant and animal health standards, rules of origin and agriculture. A first text-based discussion also took place on trade and sustainable development, including a presentation by the European Commission of a new article on Trade and Gender Equality.   The next round of negotiations is expected for April 2021.   Commission reports on negotiating round with five Eastern and Southern African countries EU: Market Access, Complaint Mechanism On November 16, 2020, the EU Commission Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) launched the Single Entry Point (SEP) and complaints mechanism for the enforcement of EU trade agreements and arrangements.   The SEP is the centralized contact point for all EU-based stakeholders who want to lodge a complaint on market access issues or non-compliance with Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) or Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) commitments. Its main objective is to streamline internal processes to tackle market access issues and non-compliance with TSD/GSP system commitments, as well as to prioritize better the EU’s enforcement action. However, the SEP does not deal with trade defense complaints (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy or safeguards). For such matters, please refer to the trade defense complaints office.   Market access complaints are open to: 1) EU Member States, 2) entities having their registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the EU, 3) industry associations of EU companies, 4) EU employers’ associations, and 5) trade unions. TSD/GSP complaints are open to the previous entities and to EU citizens and EU NGOs. The complaint forms can be found on the ‘Access2Markets’ webpage. Guidelines for the SEP and complaints mechanism EU: DG Trade Strategic Plan 2020-2024 The European Commission Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) recently published its Strategic Plan 2020-2024.   This plan sets how DG Trade will pursue its agenda in the next five years (2020-2024). DG Trade will pursue its specific objectives under two of the Commission&#39;s general objectives: 1) an economy that works for people, and 2) a stronger Europe in the world.   In the current particularly challenging environment, the EU’s trade policy aims to make more progress on: Strengthening international cooperation and coordination in favor of rules-based trade. Gradual and reciprocal opening of markets, effective implementation of trade, and investment agreements and enforcing EU rights. Strengthening and extending rules for trade and investment which support open markets and reflect EU values. The promotion of sustainability and equitable development. Establishing a level playing field and protecting EU companies and citizens from unfair trade. DG Trade Strategic Plan 2020-2024 EU-UK: Channel Tunnel Rail Traffic On December 2, 2020, the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on a mandate to ensure the continuation of the Channel Tunnel rail traffic at the end of the transition period.   Coreper agreed on a negotiating mandate for discussions with the European Parliament on a proposal aimed at ensuring that rail traffic can continue in the Channel Tunnel from January 1, 2021.   According to the draft regulation, the safety authorization issued to the infrastructure manager of the Channel Tunnel would remain valid for two months after the end of the transition period defined in the withdrawal agreement. Moreover, certain safety certificates and licenses, which have been issued under EU law to rail companies established in the UK and using the cross-border infrastructure, should be extended for nine months from the date of application of the regulation.   By temporarily extending the validity of these safety authorizations and certificates, the measure gives French authorities more time to arrange the future binational administration, so that railways can continue to operate in the Channel Tunnel after January 1, 2021.   Channel Tunnel rail traffic at the end of the transition period RCEP, the World&#39;s Largest Trading Bloc On November 15, 2020, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).   This Partnership will represent the world’s largest trading area, as the total population, economic volume and trade of the 15 RCEP members account for 30% of the global total. It is expected that the RCEP will eliminate about 90% of tariffs between members.   It is also expected that this Partnership will promote international cooperation against COVID-19, support free trade and multilateral trading system, keep the region’s supply chain stable, and boost regional and global economic recovery and development.   The RCED will enter into force when the 15 countries finished their corresponding domestic approval procedures.   RCEP: Asia-Pacific countries form world&#39;s largest trading bloc UK-Canada: Trade Agreement On November 21, 2020, the United Kingdom and Canada secured an agreement for a continuity trade deal.   This agreement rolls over the provisions of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and shall give certainty for bilateral exports of goods and services. Several agricultural products will continue to benefit from zero tariffs.   In addition to this, both countries agreed to start negotiations in 2021 on a new UK-Canada trade deal, with the potential to go further in areas such as digital trade and environment provisions, among others.   UK secures vital rollover trade deal with Canada and agrees to start negotiating more advanced deal next year UK-Kenya: Trade Agreement On November 3, 2020, the United Kingdom and Kenya finalized negotiations on a trade deal. The agreement is a translation of the terms previously agreed between the EU and the East African Community (EAC) and includes clauses to allow other East Africa Community states to join in the future.   Both countries will continue to benefit from duty-free access. The deal is expected to be formally signed once it passes bilateral revisions.   UK and Kenya secure a trade agreement https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-decemberINC Introduces the INC Short Form ContractOver 200 participants joined the Introduction to the INC Contract webinar to watch and learn about the new short-form contract that the INC is offering its members. Mr. Giles Hacking, former INC Chairman and current member of the INC Business Integrity Committee chaired the webinar. Alongside Mr. Hacking, representatives from top organizations also took part. Dr. Helena Melnikov, Waren-Verein der Hamburger Börse e. V. WV, Germany, Ms. Barbara Niemens, NZV Netherlands,  Mr. Liam O’Gorman, Nut and Dried Fruit Trade Association NDFTA, UK, Mr. Jeremiah Szabo, DFA of California, USA, Mr. Bob Bauer, Association of Food Industries AFI, USA,  and Mr. Craig Duerr, California Almond Exporters Association CAEA, USA each gave short presentations on what products and services their organizations can provide. These six arbitral organizations are all supporters of the INC Short Form Contract and can be selected for arbitration when using the contract. Moreover, Ms. Tara Smith, a representative of Clyde & Co, and three more members of the INC Business Integrity, Mr. Andrew Waring, Mr. Pratap Nair, and  Mr. Stephen Meltzer joined to give their input. Following the description of the new INC Short Form Contract by Mr. Hacking, and the presentations from the guest speakers, a short Q&A session gave attendees to address questions directly to the panel. All in all, the webinar continued the recent trend of online services for INC members considering the current public health situation. View the preliminary INC Short Form Contract! Thank you to everyone who attended and thank you to all of our speakers for providing wonderful content for INC members. If you missed the live webinar or would like to re-watch it, you can find it in the INC TV Channel. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-introduces-the-inc-short-form-contractCOVID-19 Update: December 3, 2020Global COVID-19 cases surpassed 62 million, and the worldwide death toll is over 1.45 million people. It took just 17 days to go from 50 million cases to 60 million, compared with the 21 days it took to go from 40 million to 50 million. Several countries are reporting a high rate of daily new cases. Countries such as Serbia, South Korea or Turkey have reported more than twice as many new cases compared to the previous 14 days, and Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and the US, among others, reported more cases, whereas countries such as Argentina, Austria, China, India, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain reported fewer new cases. The rising number of new infections has led countries around the world to impose new restrictions in recent weeks. Given the unprecedented global mobilization of scientific know-how and pharmaceutical resources, it is expected that a new COVID-19 vaccine may be approved by the end of the year in the US and in the EU. As a consequence, the significant progress on vaccine development, together with other public health measures, raises hopes for ending the pandemic.   The International Air Transport Association is working on a Travel Pass, which will display test results together with proof of inoculation, as well as listing national entry rules, among other details. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, in the G20 Leaders’ Summit highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the foundations of social, economic and political stability. Dr. Adhanom focused on three key areas in which the G20 has a vital role, both in ending the pandemic and building back better: 1) vaccines, as they are vital to end the pandemic and to boost global recovery, 2) preparedness to prevent future outbreaks and their impacts on lives, livelihoods and economies, and 3) leadership, because the G20 represents 2/3 of the global population and 80% of the global economy, and consequently has a unique role to play in fostering solidarity in order to end the pandemic.   Dr. Adhanom also remarked that there is a real hope that vaccines, together with other public health measures, will help to end the pandemic. In addition to this, the urgency with which the vaccines have been developed shall be matched by the same urgency to distribute them fairly.  IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its Annual Report 2020, which stresses that the global economy is facing a deep recession with the ongoing impact of the pandemic. The report also states that uncertainty, in combination with long-term forces, influences the countries’ response to the COVID-19 and their recovery. Governments around the globe invested nearly $12 trillion in fiscal actions and about $7.5 trillion in monetary actions in order to save lives and help the global economy. However, ongoing global forces and the current crisis may offer opportunities to build a better future.   The EU announced a contribution of €183 million to the IMF Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), which provides debt service relieve to countries hit by catastrophes including public health crises. The CCRT allows the IMF to support international debt relief efforts when poor and vulnerable countries are hit by natural disasters or public health crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF has already disbursed about $500 million in immediate debt relief to all 29 CCRT-eligible members since the beginning of the pandemic.  WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued the World Trade Report 2020 –an annual publication that aims to deepen understanding about trends in trade, trade policy issues and the multilateral trading system. The 2020 issue looks at the role of innovation and technology policies. The report highlights the fact that in the digital age, a growing number of governments have adopted policies aimed at boosting growth through innovation and technological upgrading. Furthermore, the crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic is leading countries to strengthen these policies, and the outbreak has accelerated the uptake for e-commerce and digital innovation. OECD The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the report “New Horizons: Structural policies for a strong recovery and a sustainable, inclusive and resilient future”. This report had been requested by the G20 to support its Action Plan in response to the crisis, and highlights that the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the economy which can only be fixed through greater global cooperation and strong, targeted policy action. The OECD also recommends that governments need to plan for the recovery while continuing to live with the virus. Additionally, emergency economic measures need to be adopted, the support given to both people and businesses shall become more targeted, and new policies need to be adopted in order to make a stronger, sustainable and inclusive global economy.   The OECD identifies the need for stronger cooperation between governments in a number of fields: 1) health, from research to distributing COVID-19 vaccines, 2) trade, to ensure robust global production and supply chains, 3) the taxation of multinationals as the economy becomes increasingly digitalized, 4) environmental sustainability, and, 5) preventing sudden outflows of capital and sovereign debt crises in emerging markets and developing countries.   The report also states that exceptional fiscal spending and monetary support should be maintained as long as needed in order to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. Furthermore, the crisis is accelerating changes to the economy, which are often disruptive. Governments will need to assist workers and businesses to transition from shrinking to expanding sectors: by removing barriers to mobility, increasing competition, and making it easier for firms to access finance and advanced technologies or to restructure.   The OECD issued another report, “Health at a Glance: Europe 2020”, which warns that Europe needs to prepare better for coming out of new strict containment measures, as the COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. The introduction of new mitigation measures is vital for policymakers to plan strategies to re-open their economies and to avoid stricter lockdown measures. More testing, tracing and isolation policies need to be implemented, as well as improved social distancing measures.   The report also provides comparative data on both the evolution of the pandemic in Europe as well as the policies aimed to mitigate its negative consequences. The report shows that some of the measures taken by European countries, such as banning large gatherings, enforcing the use of face masks and limiting capacity in indoor spaces, among others, had a positive outcome at slowing down the spread of the virus.  INC The INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council organized the First INC Online Conference on November 17-19. Among many interesting online sessions, such as the regional working groups, scientific and regulatory webinar, nutrition webinar, and industry marketing program update, three internationally renowned keynote speakers provided insights into the impact of COVID-19.   The first one, Mr. Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO (1995-1999) addressed “Geopolitics in the Post-COVID-19 World”. He looked into what the geopolitics of the US, China, and Europe might look like once the pandemic slows down and we return to a "new normal".  He outlined the role that the US has played in the international community and highlighted the drastic look that it will have towards the world under a projected Biden Administration. The overarching theme of his presentation was the importance of multilateral organizations and agreements to achieve great things.   The second keynote speech was titled “Goal Overview & Australia - Impact of COVID-19 in near and medium term” by Mr. Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist, National Australia Bank. Mr. Oster presented global GDP forecasts that showed a -3.9% drop in GDP for 2020. He put this into context reminding attendees that the worst outcome before had essentially been 0%. From his perspective, Europe and other regions could experience a “W” recession in which the economy experiences a first drop in output, following by a brief recovery, before once again falling. He stressed that the main factor in regards to the economy is how well countries manage the coronavirus outbreak. And finally, keynote speaker Mr. Haim Israel, Global Strategist, Managing Director of Research at Bank of America, gave a speech titled "Transforming World! The World After COVID". Mr. Israel’s presentation stressed the idea that we are living in a revolutionary time period. He listed five megatrends that he believes will be important after COVID-19: Geopolitics, Tech Wars, Big Governments, Health, and the New Consumer. Israel’s experience in thematic investing provided a glimpse into the future and the challenges and opportunities that await us. Watch the keynote presentations in the INC TV Channel of the Member&#39;s Area. Australia On November 10, a new electronic border pass system came into effect in order to enter Queensland from another state or territory, if passengers have not been in a COVID-19 hotspot area in the past 14 days. However, specialist or essential workers are able to enter Queensland following certain requirements.   Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria, recently lifted the 112-day lockdown, with almost 5 million residents in Melbourne confined at home. However, there was a cluster of infections in the north of Adelaide, after several months of no community transmission. China According to a recent USDA GAIN report, the Chinese retail food industry was especially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic during the first half of 2020. During the lockdown e-commerce sales increased significantly, but supermarkets also experienced growth in sales.   The Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sectors suffered losses during the first quarter, but sales rebounded in the second quarter. In addition to this, COVID-19 testing caused longer port clearance time.   From November 22, Hong Kong and Singapore were expected to launch a travel bubble, which implied quarantine free flights between the two regions. However, the decision has been postponed until the first weeks of December, after a COVID-19 surge. EU On November 18, the European Council and the Parliament reached a political agreement on REACT-EU –an emergency legislative initiative to release €47.5 billion through the structural funds to the hardest hit Member States and regions. This additional funding will come from the European Recovery Instrument. REACT-EU is expected to bolster health services, jobs, small and medium-sized enterprises while stimulating green and digital transformations. In 2021, the additional resources will be of €37.5 billion, and €10 billion in 2022.   In addition to this, the Council and the Parliament also reached a political agreement on the next multiannual financial framework, the EU’s long-term budget, which gives more flexibility to allow the EU to respond to unforeseen needs, and a targeted reinforcement of EU programs, including EU4Health program. The budget also establishes new revenue structures to repay €750 billion in debt the EU will take on to finance coronavirus assistance and recovery.   The European Commission approved a contract in order to secure 300 million doses of the new COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to be available within the first three months of 2021.   On November 16, the EU Council adopted conclusions setting out how recovery from the COVID-19 crisis can be used as leverage for a more dynamic, resilient and competitive European industry. The conclusions reiterate the need for European solidarity, the green and digital transition, and achieving strategic autonomy while preserving an open economy.   On November 19, after the video conference of the EU Council members, the European Council president, Charles Michel, highlighted that the COVID-19 situation in Europe remains serious and concerning. The discussed topics were COVID-19 tests, vaccines and the lifting of restrictive measures. On testing, a common EU-approach for the use of rapid antigen tests was discussed. On vaccines, they agreed to speed up the preparations of national vaccination plans to ensure available and affordable vaccines to all EU citizens.   On November 21-22, at the G20 Summit, Michel said: "An international Treaty on Pandemics could help prevent future pandemics and help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner. It should be negotiated with all nations, UN organizations and agencies, in particular the WHO. The WHO must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies. A Treaty on Pandemics could complement its efforts."   On November 23, Michel held a phone call with the US president-elect Joe Biden. The EU leader emphasized that the EU is ready to tackle together with the US some of the main global challenges: The COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, security, and multilateralism.  Belgium Belgium is one of the EU countries with the highest COVID-19 infection rates. Hospitals are almost running over capacity. New strict lockdown measures were announced, including a six-week closure of non-essential businesses and shops, and a November school break was extended by a week. A recent USDA GAIN report stresses the impact of the lockdown measures in the hospitality sector.  Germany Germany suffered an increase of new infections, after almost two weeks into partial lockdown measures, which have been extended until December 20. In order to contain the spread of the pandemic and avoid imposing stricter containment measures, the government urged the reduction in social contacts, abstaining from private parties until the holiday season, refraining from taking public transport, as well as staying home in case of symptoms.  Greece Greece has planned to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and restart some economic activities by the beginning of December, only if the health situation remains stable. Italy Italy hit a new record of daily new COVID-19 infections and, as a consequence, added more regions to the so-called high-risk ‘red zones’. Regions are divided into three zones –red for the highest risk, then orange and yellow. In the red zone at the moment are Lombardy, Bolzano, Piedmont and Aosta Valley in the north, and Calabria in the south. Campania and Tuscany were the latest regions to enter into this classification. In these areas, people are only allowed to leave home for work, essential shopping or emergencies. All non-essential shops, including bars and restaurants, are closed. The Netherlands From October 27, in order to contain the number of new COVID-19 infections, the government closed bars and restaurants at least until the beginning of December. However, restaurants are able to operate take-away and home delivery services. According to a recent USDA GAIN report, authorities granted an additional $47 million of financial support to the foodservice sector.  Spain According to a Health Ministry report of November 25, the incidence rate of COVID-19 has fallen in Spain, but at different speeds depending on the region, compared to the previous 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The biggest falls have been recorded by the regions with the highest infection rates, such as Castilla y Leon or the Basque Country. Other data points, such as COVID-19 patients in hospital beds, or the pressure on intensive care units, also indicate that the epidemiological situation is improving.  United Kingdom The number of new COVID-19 cases is increasing in the UK. In September and October the number of hospitalized people neared the levels of the first wave of the pandemic. Stronger mitigation measures are in place until December 2, but subject to revisions if the situation does not improve. The government has introduced new restrictions: stay at home, except for the permitted activities, avoid meeting people from outside the household, and close certain businesses and venues. In addition to this, it is mandatory to wear face coverings indoors and on public transport. On December 2, the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the vaccine offers up to 95% protection against COVID-19.   The decision by the UK regulatory authority was made with advice from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the government’s independent expert scientific advisory body.   MHRA Chief Executive, Dr. June Raine said “We are globally recognised for requiring high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness for any vaccine. Our expert scientists and clinicians worked tirelessly, around the clock, carefully, scientifically, robustly and rigorously poring over hundreds of pages and tables of data, methodically reviewing the data.” India Millions of people in India have celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, amid social distancing measures. Despite new cases of COVID-19 declined during October, India is the second worst affected country, and experts feared that the festive gatherings and a drop in temperatures could prompt the spreading of the virus. The government is preparing for a third wave in Delhi, the most populated state, which had gradually lifted restrictions since May, but has seen cases rise in the last weeks. Japan Japan’s COVID-19 task force urges preventive measures in order to avoid a health crisis during winter, as cases soar in Tokyo and Hokkaido.   Tokyo Olympics are expected to take place in 2021. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach is confident the event will be open to spectators. South Korea The so-called common sense approach of South Korea made the country gain certain control over the outbreak. Despite the fact that during the first stages of the pandemic, the country was among the hardest hit nations, at this moment the outbreak is mainly under control. Citizens adopted quickly any medical or hygienic advice of both medical professionals or authorities, such as the recommendations to wear face masks or keeping physical distance. In addition to this, South Korea’s track and trace system has helped with limiting the spread of the pandemic.  United States The US has become the first country to surpass 250,000 deaths in connection with COVID-19. Furthermore, it surpassed 12 million total infections, which implies that both the caseload and the number of deaths make the US the hardest-hit country. Earlier, US President-elect Joe Biden announced a COVID-19 task force of 13 experts in order to develop the incoming administration’s response to the pandemic. On November 14, as the country set a record of new COVID-19 cases, several States were reimposing restrictions. Texas became the first state with more than 1 million confirmed cases; California is approaching this same number, and New York has imposed stronger restrictions, such as restaurants closing at 10 pm.   As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program reached 3.1 million boxes invoiced in round four, from November 1 to December 31.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-december-3-2020INC Online Conference Brings Together Over 1350 Participants from 85 Countries in the Nut and Dried Fruit IndustryDecember 1, 2020. The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) hosted an online conference to unite the industry during this difficult global pandemic. The conference featured discussions on crop estimates, nutrition, scientific, and marketing topics, as well as three internationally respected keynote speakers.   Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO highlighted the importance of multilateral organizations, Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist for the National Australian Bank discussed the economy during and after COVID-19, and Haim Israel, Global Strategist and Managing Director of Research at Bank of America emphasized the rapidly transforming world and what is to come.   The regional Working Groups for Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa; Asia and Oceania discussed current nut and dried fruit supply and demand, and shifting consumption patterns within the context of COVID-19. Backed up by increasing plantings, tree nut production continues to trend positively and 2020/2021 crops are no exception: world production is estimated at 5.3 million metric tons (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts in kernel basis; pistachios in-shell basis), up by 15% from 2019/20. Hence the need to keep innovating and opening up new markets. Forecasted at 47.3 million MT (in-shell basis), global peanut production is also anticipated to increase by 13%. Although total dried fruit production is estimated slightly below last season, at 3 million MT, along with 2019/20 carry-over, supply should be adequate. Overall, pandemic-related demand on nuts and dried fruits has favored online, pantry-stocking and big retailers’ sales while reinforcing the already growing demand of immunity boosting and plant-based foods. Download the press release.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-online-conference-brings-together-over-1350-participants-from-85-countries-in-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industryA Successful INC Online Conference Brings Together Over 1350 Participants from 85 Countries in the Nut and Dried Fruit IndustryFrom November 17-19, the INC hosted an online conference to unite the industry during this difficult global pandemic. The conference featured discussions on crop estimates, nutrition, scientific, and marketing topics, as well as three internationally respected keynote speakers. Nut & Dried Fruit Working Groups Highlight Trends and Crop Estimates The regional Working Groups for Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa; Asia and Oceania discussed current nut and dried fruit supply and demand, and shifting consumption patterns within the context of COVID-19. Backed up by increasing plantings, tree nut production continues to trend positively and 2020/2021 crops are no exception: world production is estimated at 5.3 million metric tons (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and walnuts in kernel basis; pistachios in-shell basis), up by 15% from 2019/20. Hence the need to keep innovating and opening up new markets. Forecasted at 47.3 million MT (in-shell basis), global peanut production is also anticipated to increase by 13%. Although total dried fruit production is estimated slightly below last season, at 3 million MT, along with 2019/20 carry-over, supply should be adequate. Overall, pandemic-related demand for nuts and dried fruits has favored online, pantry-stocking, and big retailers’ sales while reinforcing the already growing demand for immunity-boosting and plant-based foods. Riveting Keynote Speeches from Renowned Speakers The keynote speakers for the conference gave attendees fascinating and expert opinions on geopolitics, the economy, and the transforming world, each of course in the context of COVID-19. In Javier Solana&#39;s speech, "Geopolitics in the Post-COVID-19 World" we got a look into what the geopolitics of the US, China, and Europe might look like once the pandemic slows down and we return to a "new normal". Alan Oster discussed "Global Overview & Australia – Impact of COVID-19 in near and medium term" giving attendees an idea of how the global economy and specifically Australia&#39;s economy has reacted to the pandemic and what the coming years might look like. Haim Israel was the final keynote speaker and, in his speech, "Transforming World! The World After COVID", he discussed the digitalization of the world and emphasized how rapidly everything is changing and transforming.  Knowledge Sessions for In-depth Insights into Scientific, Nutrition, & Marketing Topics In the Scientific & Regulatory Webinar, we learned about sustainability through the Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Commission, and how it aims to build a sustainable agricultural supply chain. Continuing with sustainability, we also heard about the most recent developments in agro-sustainability. Lastly, the session presented insightful looks into food quality and the role of technology. The Nutrition & Research webinar first focused on the role of nuts and dried fruits on diabetes. Recent research was presented to analyze the positive health effects of consuming nuts and dried fruits. Next, we heard a presentation on plant-based diets and the importance of incorporating plant-based foods. Lastly, the webinar session discussed how aging can be positively affected by eating nuts and dried fruits. The Industry Marketing Programs Update highlighted various marketing strategies that associations in the industry have implemented in efforts to increase consumption of nuts and dried fruits worldwide. We saw social media plans and strategic product and country efforts, and much more from the associations! More INC Online Conference Highlights Apart from the great sessions, the conference also hosted sponsor sessions, which allowed sponsors to present their company, products, and services through a webinar dedicated solely to them. Additionally, there was a virtual Exhibition Hall which allowed participants to go from booth to booth discovering materials and reaching out to those companies who had booths. Along with the Exhibition Hall, the Networking Area further gave attendees the opportunity to connect with new and existing customers. Last but not least, there were daily quizzes that participants could take part in which gave them the chance to enter a raffle for prizes if there were in the top 10 at the end of the event. Top 10 for Daily Challenges Raf Peeters, QCIFY Peter Haucke, KREYENBORG GMBH & CO. KG Jason Costa, HAZELNUT GROWERS OF OREGON Hayley Brashier, LAITRAM MACHINERY Ahmet Kocyigit, TOMRA Aidan Wright, MINTEC Lieven Plets, WONDERFUL PISTACHIOS & ALMONDS Paul Ritsma, SETTON PISTACHIO OF TERRA BELLA, INC. Ahmad Ebrahimi, THE PISTACHIO COMPANY Hari Nair, WESTERN INDIA CASHEW CO   After the drawing, the INC is excited to announce that the winner of the challenge raffle is Paul Ritsma of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc! The INC thanks each and every single person who made this event the success that it was. Also, thank you to the sponsors for continuously supporting the nut and dried fruit industry. All of the conference&#39;s sessions can be rewatched on the INC TV Channel. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-online-conference-brings-together-over-1300-participants-from-85-countries-in-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industryScientific & Regulatory Webinar - INC Online Conference 2020On November 18, 2020, the INC held the Scientific & Regulatory Webinar. With the focus of the session on European Commission plans for agriculture, sustainability, and the impact of technology on food safety, this hour-long webinar proved to give a well-balanced and well-rounded look into some of the most trending topics in the food industry. Chaired by prominent figures and experts in sustainability, the webinar discussed sustainability through the Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Commission, and how it aims to build a sustainable agricultural supply chain. The session also heard about the most recent developments in agro-sustainability.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/scientific-regulatory-webinar-inc-online-conference-2020COVID-19 Update: November 12, 2020The worst hit regions are the Americas, with over 21.7 million cases, Europe, with over 13.3 million, and South-East Asia, with over 9.5 million confirmed cases. The US, India and Brazil are the countries with more cases at the moment. Many European countries announced stricter restrictions, in order to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, as winter season approaches. Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK, among others, announced lockdown measures. New contagions in the US are spreading at record levels. However, several countries reported fewer new cases, such as Argentina, India, Ireland, Philippines, Thailand and South Africa, among others. Despite the rapid increase of new cases, there are some advances regarding possible vaccines and interventions aimed to fight the disease. For example, a recent review, published in the European Journal of Nutrition (1), indicates that it is known that the virus can affect several tissues and can progress to a respiratory failure in severe cases. To prevent the progression and minimize all the damage, the immune system must be in its integrity. A healthy nutritional status is fundamental to immunological protection and a good response to the virus.  WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted that while many countries have brought COVID-19 under control, the number of new cases in some European and North American countries continues to spike. In some regions, new cases grow exponentially and hospitals reach full capacity, which is a risk to both patients and health workers. The WHO encourages countries to invest again in the basics, so that restriction measures can be lifted safely and governments can hopefully avoid having to take these measures again.   The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met on October 29, with the aim to review the situation and progress made. They advised that the pandemic still constitutes a global public health emergency, and urged a focus on response efforts based on the lessons already learned and strong science. The Committee provided targeted advice for WHO and countries to focus on in the coming months. It was emphasized the importance of evidence-informed, risk-based and coherent measures related to international traffic, surveillance and contract tracing efforts, maintaining essential health services and preparing plans for future COVID-19 vaccines. The Committee also urged countries to avoid politicization of the pandemic response, seen as a major detriment to global efforts.   The WHO World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of WHO, takes place virtually from November 9-14, 2020. As a preparation for the meeting, the WHO shared three messages: 1) COVID-19 can be beaten with science, solutions and solidarity, 2) the COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that health is the foundation of social, economic and political stability, and 3) there is an urge to prepare for the next pandemic. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa, which projects a 3% contraction of economic activity for 2020, but a 3.1% recovery in 2021. This outlook is subject to uncertainty, due to the fact that the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unknown, and it is also subject to the availability of external financial support and the development of an effective vaccine. The outlook also highlights that, despite of the effects of the crisis, the potential of the region and the resourcefulness of its people remain intact. The areas of revenue mobilization, digitalization, trade integration, competition, transparency and governance, and climate-change mitigation require priority reforms.   The IMF also issued the Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia, which highlights that the region responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with stringent measures in order to mitigate the spread of the disease. However, its impact continue to face a difficult an uncertain environment. The immediate priorities for the region are: 1) containing the health crisis, 2) cushioning income losses, and 3) expanding social spending. Governments must address recovery and strengthen inclusion. WTO In remarks delivered to the International Grains Trade Coalition on November 3, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General, Alan Wolff said the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the critical need for governments to work not only with each other but with business and wider civil society to ensure recovery. Many WTO Members joined forces and showed readiness to: 1) promote international co-operation, 2) facilitate information exchange to mitigate supply chain disruptions, and 3) safeguard global food security through open, predictable and transparent trade.   The WTO efforts to improve current market and regulatory environment for agri-food products are the following:   First, WTO Members are in the process of updating current WTO rules as they relate to agriculture to meet current and future challenges. In this regard, the negotiations aim to: 1) substantially reduce trade-distorting support, 2) improve disciplines on export restrictions, 3) enhance market access opportunities, and 4) further improve export competition rules.   Second, WTO bodies and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) routinely examine relevant trade of grains and oilseeds, such as progress in adopting e-phyto certification; and the digitalization of customs procedures.  OECD The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) issued a report on the employment situation in OECD countries during the second quarter of the year. The employment rate, which is the share of population in the working-age with jobs, fell by 4%, to 64.6%, which represents 34 million less employed people than the first quarter of 2020. In Canada and the US, the employment rates dropped by 8.5 percentage points (to 64.7%) and 8.9 percentage points (to 62.5%) respectively in the second quarter. In the euro area, the employment rate decreased by 1.9 percentage points, to 66.2% in the second quarter of 2020, with decreases of 3.0 percentage points or more in Estonia, Ireland and Spain. Australia On October 31, Australia recorded no new local COVID-19 cases for the first time since June 9. In addition to this, the number of new infections in Victoria, one of the hardest hit states, had been in single digits since October 13. However, on November 3, Australia reported one locally acquired new case in New South Wales. If the number of new infections remains low, it is expected that by mid-November the border between Victoria and South Australia may reopen.   Australia food and beverage sector welcomes government’s plan for post-COVID-19 economic fightback, the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which also recognizes food manufacturing as one of the country’s priorities. The Strategy plans to invest A$1.5 billion in four years to rebuild the economy, create jobs and recover from the COVID-19 recession. Brazil The OECD issued a report about the digital transformation in Brazil and the fact that it could reinforce economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds that despite recent progress, Brazil lags in investment in the level of digital skills in the workforce and in digital innovation. The OECD recommends ways to increase digital uptake among people and firms, strengthen digital security and privacy, and spur innovation. Chile According to a recent USDA GAIN report, the Central Bank of Chile has estimated an economic contraction between 5.5% and 7.5% for the current year. However, total consumption is projected to grow 1.1% in 2020. Due to COVID-19 related sanitary measures in place, from January to August 2020, US exports of agricultural products to Chile decreased by 5.7% over the same period of 2019. In addition to this, the Chilean Federation of Tourism Companies estimated $3.9 billion in losses if the pandemic continues to impact foreign travel and domestic tourism until December 2020. The tourism sector, which is the fourth most important sector in Chile, also projects that 80,000 jobs may be eliminated by the end of 2020.  China From November, Hong Kong residents staying in mainland China can return to their city without having to quarantine. In addition to this, a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is operative since November.   China suspended the entry for residents from United Kingdom, Belgium, India and Philippines in a temporary reaction to a new surge of COVID-19 cases in these countries. Travelers from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Italy, Nigeria and Ukraine, among others, are also included in the temporary ban.  EU The EU Economic Affairs Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni highlighted some of the effects of the pandemic in the EU economy. During July, August and September, the EU GDP grew by 12.7%, due to a low rate of infections and loosened lockdowns and travel restrictions. However, due to the rise of new infections during the last weeks and the reimposition of stricter prevention measures, the rebound of the EU economy has been interrupted. It is expected that the economy will go back to its pre-pandemic level by 2023.   On October 28, the EU issued the Coronavirus Resurgence Factsheet, which summarizes some of the EU response measures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increased testing capacity, effective communication to citizens, and securing essential supplies, among others.   EU-Canada leaders stressed the importance of joint efforts to overcome the pandemic in a virtual meeting held on October 29. They shared the commitment to take effective measures to protect health, ensure a robust economic recovery, and build more innovative, sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies. The leaders highlighted that solidarity, cooperation and effective multilateralism are essential to defeat the virus and accelerate the recovery. They also committed to continuing to work closely together in international fora including the G7, the G20, and the United Nations system. Both sides agreed that the EU and Canada will deepen their cooperation and exchange of information on COVID-19 vaccines including research, access, procurement and distribution.   After a video conference of the Eurogroup held on November 3, Pascal Donohoe, President of the Eurogroup, remarked the three safety nets approved in April, which are currently in place: 1) The Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE instrument) aims to protect jobs –support has already been granted to 17 Member States, 2) The European Investment Bank (EIB) Guarantee Fund supports businesses –in effect since summer, and 3) The Pandemic Crisis Support instrument of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) remains in place and reinforces market confidence in euro area sovereigns.   The European Council approved the conclusions on the role of the EU in strengthening the WHO. Some of the suggestions are: 1) a revision of the alert system for declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern to allow for differentiated levels of alerts, 2) a distinction between travel and trade restrictions under the International Health Regulations (IHR) in order to avoid unnecessary harm to economies, 3) the possibility of an independent epidemiological assessment on-site in high risk zones in close collaboration with the state party, and 4) increased transparency on national compliance with the IHR. Belgium The country imposed lockdown measures in order to prevent the collapse of its health-care system, which is operating beyond limits. A few weeks ago, Belgium imposed a nighttime curfew, and more recently closed all non-essential stores and limited social contact to a minimum. In addition to this, schools remain closed at least until mid-November. France France announced a four-week nationwide lockdown until December 1. Non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars remain closed. Schools and workplaces remain open and care homes visits are allowed. However, people need a certificate to move around.  Germany The German Government announced a partial national lockdown. People are advised to stay at home, avoid travel and keep social contacts to an absolute minimum. However, schools remain open. By the end of November, the restrictions are expected to be reassessed. In order to compensate the losses caused by the lockdown, the Government offered a relief package of €10 billion.   Hospitals are under pressure, as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. For this reason, hospitals may be required to postpone non-critical operations, as there are not enough resources to treat an expected influx of COVID-19 patients and many of them are working at the limits of their capacity.  Greece On November 7, Greece applied a nationwide lockdown for three weeks in order to curb down COVID-19 resurgence of new cases. All businesses except supermarkets and pharmacies remain closed, primary schools remain open but high schools closed.   Earlier, Thessaloniki and the neighboring region of Serre’s were put in lockdown for 14 days. However, wholesale, industry, hotels and schools remained open. In addition to this, there is a temporary ban on international and domestic passenger flights to and from Thessaloniki Airport “Macedonia” from November 3 at 18:00 until November 17 midnight. The rest of the country is in partial lockdown. Face covering is mandatory as well as at least 50% teleworking in both the public and private sector. Italy Italy imposed full lockdown measures in several cities such as Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome and Turin. The Government approved a relief package of about €5 billion aimed to help the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 lockdown and other restriction measures. Spain In addition to the State of Emergency imposed until May 9, 2021, which includes a nighttime curfew, most Spanish regions banned inter regional travel in order to avoid stronger lockdown measures. In some areas, the perimetral closure has been applied at a municipal level.  United Kingdom The UK Government announced a four week national lockdown, from November 5 until December 2. This is the second national lockdown for England, with pubs, restaurants, gyms, leisure and entertainment venues, as well as non-essential shops, closed.  India India is the second worst COVID-19 hit country. However, it seems that the epidemic is slightly on the decline, due to the fact that recoveries have been outnumbering the detection of new infections. The main drivers for this turnaround are not clear, especially due to the fact that pandemic numbers are declining during the festival season, Bihar elections, and the restart of activities. It is also believed that one reason might be that health experts have been cautioning against lowering the guard. The festival season is not over, and the approaching of winter is likely to be an added complication because it could worsen respiratory conditions amongst infected people.   The port situation in India, according to a recent USDA GAIN report, indicates that the cargo volume in Mumbai Port dropped by 20% from April to October, compared to the same period last year. Overall, the trade volumes for the top 12 state-run ports fell 12% during April-October, compared to the same period of 2019: Tuticorin and Kandla ports cargo volume dropped by 11%; Chennai and Cochin by 22%; Kolkata by 14%, and Mangalore by 5%. In Mundra, it is expected that the container availability will normalize by mid-November, due to a growth in imports. Israel The Israeli Hotel Restaurant Institutional (HRI) sector has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent USDA GAIN report. Israel’s Central Bank projected a GDP decrease of between 4.5% to 7% in 2020, after a 3.3% increase in 2019. Due to the restriction measures aimed to slow down the spread of the pandemic, the HRI sector estimates that about 2,000 businesses have closed during the first semester. Under the current scenario, the sector forecast the permanent closure of 4,500 businesses. United States The number of new infections has been increasing during the last month. In October, at least 31 states set their COVID-19 case records, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It is likely that, as new cases soar, further restrictions enter into force. For example, New York Government announced that most travelers must get COVID-19 tests before and after arrival in the state. Once in New York, travelers will be required to quarantine for three days before getting another test. If the second test is negative, the traveler will no longer be required to quarantine. The new policy replaces a previous advisory list of states from which travelers were required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New York.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a series of considerations for the upcoming fall and winter holiday celebrations. The aim of these considerations is to help protect individuals and their families, friends and communities from COVID-19, without replacing any state, local or territorial health and safety rules. There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others with COVID-19 such as the location and the duration of the gathering, the number of attendees and where are they coming from, among others. Some of the recommendations are holding outdoor gatherings, limiting the number of attendees, and bringing extra masks and hand sanitizer, among others.   The USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) paid more than $7 billion to agricultural producers in its second round. Since CFAP 2 enrollment began on September 21, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has approved more than 443,000 applications. Through CFAP 2, the USDA is making available up to $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. FSA accepts CFAP 2 applications until December 11, 2020. The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. (1) Arruda de Souza Monnerat, J., Ribeiro de Souza, P., Monteiro da Fonseca Cardoso, L. et al. Micronutrients and bioactive compounds in the immunological pathways related to SARS-CoV-2 (adults and elderly). Eur J Nutr (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-020-02410-1 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-november-12-20202020 International Seedless Dried Grape Producing Countries ConferenceAround 70 participants had the opportunity to exchange information on world production and marketing of dried grapes. Guest speaker, Mr. Simon Melik, presented the activities of the Dried Fruit Alliance.   Originally planned to be held in Greece, the onsite conference had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19-restrictions; instead, an online meeting was organized by the Aegean Exporters Association (Turkey). Mr. Osman Oz and Mrs. Ece Tirkaz from the Aegean Exporters Association were the elected Chairman and Secretary, respectively. Mr. Mark King from Dried Fruits Australia was the elected Deputy Chairman.   The expected world supply for 2020 was presented during the meeting, showing and overall availability of Sultanas and Raisins increased by 1% from 2019, mainly due to a 20% increment in the total carryover and in spite the slightly decreased production (1.1% below 2019). Goldens and Currants marketable supply is estimated up by 18% and 45% from 2019, respectively.   Press Release and Production Estimateshttps://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/2020-international-seedless-dried-grape-producing-countries-conferenceEuropean Commission, Farm to Fork 2020 ConferenceFocused on the Farm to Fork Strategy adopted in May 2020, this virtual conference gathered stakeholders across the food value chain, public authorities, international and civil society organizations, as well as citizens and interested public, with the aim of discussing on the challenges and opportunities linked to the transition to sustainable food systems, as well as on possible further areas of intervention.   The conference had high-level speakers, including Mr. Frans Timmermans, European Commission&#39;s Executive Vice President, Ms. Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner responsible for Health and Food Safety, and Mr. Janusz Wojchiecowski, European Commissioner responsible for Agriculture. In addition, actors from the public and private sector shared and discussed different perspectives, challenges and opportunities of the transition to sustainable food systems.   The event was the first opportunity to gather all key players including public authorities, academia and actors in the food value chain –from farmers, food manufacturers, retailers, hospitality and food services to consumers– to discuss the move towards sustainable food systems.   The recordings of the conference can be checked here: https://ec.europa.eu/food/farm2fork/farm-fork-conference_en https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/european-commission-farm-to-fork-2020-conferencePesticides Update: NovemberAustralia: MRLS Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued the proposal to amend Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (October 20, 2020). Among other changes, the table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The maximum residue limit (MRL) for carbaryl in hazelnuts at 0.01 ppm is inserted. The MRL for pyraclostrobin in walnut is substituted by T0.01 ppm. ‘T’ indicates that the maximum residue limit is a temporary maximum residue limit.   The deadline for comments is January 4, 2021.   The proposal can be found here. Brazil: MRLs Update The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has notified the World Trade Organization of the draft resolutions regarding the active ingredients C38 – Chlorfluazuron, C70 – Chlorantraniliprole, P46 – Pyraclostrobin, and F68 – Fluxapyroxad of the Monograph List of Active Ingredients for Pesticides, Household Cleaning Products and Wood Preservers, published by Resolution RE n° 165 of 29 August 2003, on the Official Gazette (DOU Diário Oficial da União) of 2 September 2003. The MRL for chlorfluazuron in peanut culture is set at 0.01 ppm with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for chlorantraniliprole in peanut culture is set at 0.05 ppm with a safety security period of 7 days in the modality of foliar use. In addition, the MRL of the peanut culture is changed from 0.01 to 0.05 mg/kg, in the modality of soil use (application). The MRL for pyraclostrobin in plums is set at 1.5 ppm with a safety security period of 7 days. The MRL for fluxapyroxad in plums is set at 1.5 ppm with a safety security period of 7 days. For chlorfluazuron, chlorantraniliprole, pyraclostrobin and fluxapyroxad the final date for comments is November 21, 2020.   C38 – Chlorfluazuron C70 – Chlorantraniliprole   P46 – Pyraclostrobin   F68 – Fluxapyroxad Canada: MRLs Update Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has adopted the proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for glufosinate-ammonium. The PMRLs for glufosinate-ammonium in tree nuts and in stone fruits was adopted on October 13, 2020. As previously announced, the MRL for glufosinate-ammonium in Tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is increased from 0.1 to 0.5 ppm; and in Stone fruits (crop group 12-09) from 0.2 to 0.3 ppm. Health Canada Database In addition, new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for pyrethrins and trifludimoxazin were proposed.   The PMRL for pyrethrins in low growing berries (crop subgroup 13-07G, except lowbush blueberries) is set at 0.15 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 3, 2021.   The PMRL for trifludimoxazin in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) and peanuts is set at 0.01 ppm. The deadline for comments is January 11, 2021.   Consultation on Pyrethrins, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL 2020-35 Consultation on Trifludimoxazin, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2020-36 China: MRLs Update As previously announced, China&#39;s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published a public consultation on Maximum Residue Limits of 187 Pesticides in or on food with due date for comments November 16, 2020. An unofficial translation of the draft MRLs has been released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. EFSA: MRLs Review The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Review of the existing maximum residue levels for oxyfluorfen according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. Based on the assessment of the available data, maximum residue level (MRL) proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out. Although no apparent risk to consumers was identified, some information required by the regulatory framework was missing. Hence, the consumer risk assessment is considered indicative only and some MRL proposals still require further consideration by risk managers.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Oxyfluorfen almonds, pistachios, walnuts, plums 0.05 0.01* Recommended (MRL is derived from a GAP evaluated at EU level, which is fully supported by data and for which no risk to consumers is identified; no CXL is available) apricots, grapes 0.1 0.01*  * Indicates lower limit of determination. EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for oxyfluorfen according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(10):6269 EU: MRLs Update The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1565 and the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1566, amending Annexes to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels of active substances in or on certain products.   As previously reported, Regulation (EU) 2020/1565 of 27 October 2020 amending Annexes II, III and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for 1,4‐diaminobutane, 1-methylcyclopropene, ammonium acetate, bifenazate, chlorantraniliprole, chlormequat, cyprodinil, limestone, mandipropamid, pepper, pyridaben, repellants: blood meal, seaweed extracts and trimethylamine hydrochloride in or on certain products sets the following MRLs in nuts and dried fruits. The Regulation enters into force on November 17. Pyridaben: 0.05 ppm in tree nuts. As previously reported, the Regulation (EU) 2020/1566 of 27 October 2020 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for bupirimate, carfentrazone-ethyl, ethirimol, and pyriofenone in or on certain products sets the following MRLs in nuts and dried fruits. The Regulation enters into force on November 17. Bupirimate: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts; and 1.5 ppm in grapes and cranberries. Ethirimol: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts; 0.04 ppm in apricots; 0.4 ppm in grapes; 2 ppm and in cranberries. Pyriofenone: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, dates, figs and peanuts. Carfentrazone-ethyl: 0.05* ppm in tree nuts and peanuts; and 0.02* ppm in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs.  Regulation (EU) 2020/1565 of 27 October 2020 Regulation (EU) 2020/1566 of 27 October 2020 EU: Pesticides, Standing Committee The Report of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section ‘Phytopharmaceuticals – Pesticide Residues’ that took place on September 28-29, 2020, has been published (summary). Some of the discussions were the following:   Chlorothalonil. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the residue trials supporting the MRL for peanuts do not lead to a change of the existing MRL (0.1 ppm).   The following draft regulations had a favorable opinion: Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for aclonifen, boscalid, etofenprox, ferric pyrophosphate, L-cysteine, lambdacyhalothrin, maleic hydrazide, mefentrifluconazole, cow milk, sodium 5- nitroguaiacolate, sodium o-nitrophenolate, sodium p-nitrophenolate and triclopyr in or on certain products (Art. 10) (here). The MRL for mefentrifluconazole in apricots is set at 0.7 ppm, in prunes at 0.5 ppm, and in grapes at 0.9 ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for diclofop, fluopyram, ipconazole and terbuthylazine in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for diclofop in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for fluopyram in tree nuts is set at 0.03 ppm, in prunes at 0.6 ppm, in grapes at 2 ppm, in cranberries at 4 ppm, and in peanuts at 0.02. The MRL for terbuthylazine in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for fluxapyroxad, hymexazol, metamitron, penflufen and spirotetramat (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for fluxapyroxad in apricots is set at 0.15 ppm. The MRL for hymexazol in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metamitron in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for penflufen in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for spirotetramat in cranberries is set at 1.5 ppm, and in dates, figs and peanuts at 0.02* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for benalaxyl, benalaxyl-M, dichlobenil, fluopicolide, proquinazid, and pyrdalyl (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for benalaxyl (including benalaxyl-M) in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm, and in grapes at 0.7 ppm. The MRL for dichlobenil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for proquinazid in apricots, plums, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pyrdalyl in peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for carbon tetrachloride, chlorothalonil, chlorpropham, dimethoate, ethoprophos, fenamidone, methiocarb, omethoate, propiconazole and pymetrozine in or on certain products (here). The MRL for chlorothalonil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for dimethoate in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for ethoprophos in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for fenamidone in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for methiocarb in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.03* ppm. The MRL for omethoate in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for propiconazole in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pymetrozine in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for chlordecone in or on certain products (here).   Japan: MRLs Update The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan notified the World Trade Organization of the Revision of the Standards and Specifications for Foods and Food Additives under the Food Sanitation Act (revision of agricultural chemical residue standards).   As for nuts and dried fruits, the following MRLs were proposed: The MRL for pyrifluquinazon in apricot is lowered from 3 ppm to 5 ppm. The MRL for pyrifluquinazon in apricot is lowered from 3 ppm to 5 ppm.   The deadline for comments is December 18, 2020.   In addition, the following proposed MRLs, previously notified, were adopted: The MRL for permethrin was adopted on June 18, 2020. As previously announce, the MRL in cranberry, date and pecan is set at 0.01 ppm, in walnut at 0.05 ppm, and in grape at 8.0 ppm. For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. New Zealand: MRLs Update On October 7, 2020, the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand published the ‘Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds’.   This document specifies maximum residue levels (MRLs) for agricultural compounds in food and specifies agricultural compounds for which no maximum residue level applies in relation to specified food subject to specified conditions. It revokes and replaces the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds, issued on August 25, 2020.   This Notice came into force on October 9, 2020.   Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds (October 7, 2020) https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-novemberFood Safety Update: NovemberEU: 2019 RASFF Annual Report The European Commission has recently published the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) 2019 Annual Report. In 2019, the product category "nuts, nut products and seeds" reached a total of 669 notifications, very similar to 2018. However, the number of notifications for this category has been increasing over the last years –more than double since 2014.   Year 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 Total notifications 669 667 536 443 477 308   The most notified hazard in the ‘nuts, nut products and seeds’ category and countries of origin were:   Salmonella in nuts, nut products and seeds from Sudan: 99 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from USA: 80 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from Argentina: 63 notifications. Aflatoxins in nuts, nut products and seeds from Turkey: 55 notifications.   2019 EU RASFF Report A more detailed analysis of the nut and dried fruit notifications can be found here.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-novemberOfficial Controls Update: NovemberAustralia: Import Certificate Requirements The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia notified the World Trade Organization of the extension of the temporary changes to import certificate requirements for a range of plant-based, animal, biological and animal-based goods until June 30, 2021.   As previously notified, this measure describes alternative arrangements to the use of original paper phytosanitary certificates and health certificates due the impacts of COVID-19 on airfreight and courier mail.   More information   Brazil: Dried Dates from UAE The Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health and Inspection (SDA), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) of Brazil, notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft phytosanitary requirements for the import of dried date fruits (Phoenix dactylifera), Category 2, Class 10, produced in the United Arab Emirates, in the form of Normative Instruction.   Among others, shipments must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the phytosanitary authority of the country of origin, declaring that the shipment has been treated (methyl bromide) against Cadra figulilella, Ephesa elutella, Ephesa calidella, Epuraea luteola, Sitophilus granarius and Trogoderma granarium. The treatment must be specified, including product, dose, exposure time and temperature of treatment.   The final date for comments is December 28, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   Brazil: Peanuts from USA The Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health and Inspection (SDA), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) of Brazil, notified the World Trade Organization of the Normative Instruction (Instrução Normativa) Nº 47 of 30 June 2020, which updates phytosanitary requirements for the import of peanut (Arachis hypogaea) seeds (Category 4, Class 3) produced in the United States of America.   Among other things, shipments must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the phytosanitary authority of the country of origin, declaring that the shipment has been treated against insects (Caryedon serratus, Conoderus vespertinuse, Prostephanus truncates), mites (Acarus sir), nematodes (Ditylenchus destructor, Pratylenchus thorneie, Rotylenchulus parvus), and virus (Peanut stunt virus- PSV). The treatment must be specified, including product, dose, exposure time and temperature of treatment.   The final date for comments is January 1, 2021.   Instrução Normativa Nº 47 of 30 June 2020   Canada: Phytosanitary Certificates The Canadian Food Inspection Agency notified the World Trade Organization of the revised format for Canadian phytosanitary certificates.   As a result of updates to the system used to issue paper phytosanitary certificates, the revised format phytosanitary certificate will have minor layout changes compared to the current certificate. The new format continues to follow the International Plant Protection Convention&#39;s model for phytosanitary certificates.   The new Phytosanitary Certificate will be issued on December 8, 2020, so any phytosanitary certificate re-issued on December 8 onwards will also be under the revised format, even if the certificate that it replaces was presented in the earlier format.   The final date for comments is December 6, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   Chile: Hazelnuts from Turkey The Agriculture and Livestock Service of Chile notified the World Trade Organization of the phytosanitary requirements for the importation of in-shell and shelled nuts of Corylus avellana from Turkey.   Among others, shipments must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the phytosanitary authority of the country of origin, declaring that the shipment has been treated (methyl bromide) against Curculio nucum and Trogoderma granarium. The treatment must be specified, including product, dose, exposure time, temperature and date of treatment.   The deadline for comments is December 15, 2020.   Draft (in Spanish)   EU: Control Systems Due to COVID-19 The European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1341 of 28 September 2020 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 as regards the period of application of temporary measures.   This regulation extends, for the third time, the use of electronic documentation until February 1, 2021, which prolongs the period of application of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1087 of 23 July 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1341 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-update-novemberOrganic Production: NovemberEU: Organic Agriculture Following the postponement by one year from January 1, 2021, to January, 1, 2022, of the date of entry into application of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on organic production and labeling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, it is necessary to defer also by one year the date of entry into application of Commission Implementing Regulations. Therefore, the European Commission has notified the World Trade Organization of the following drafts:   Draft Commission Delegated Regulation amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/427 as regards the date of application of the amendments to certain detailed production rules for organic products in Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council. In Article 2 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/427, the second paragraph is replaced by the following: ‘It shall apply from 1 January 2022.’ This Regulation shall apply from January 1, 2021.   Draft Commission Implementing Regulation amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/464 as regards its date of application and certain other dates that are relevant for the application of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council on organic production. The Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/464 shall apply from January 1, 2022. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/organic-production-novemberLatest Trade News and Agreements: NovemberAustralia: Agricultural Export Legislation The Australian Government announced improvements in Australia’s agricultural export legislation (see previous post) to modernize the systems that support the export of agricultural goods. The Export Control Act 2020 (the Act) forms the central pillar of the new legislative framework. The Act will be supported by a suite of legislative instruments, the Export Control Rules 2020, and the new legislation will commence on March 28, 2021. More information   EU-US: Additional Tariffs On October 13, 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowed the EU to raise tariffs of up to $4 billion US imports as a countermeasure for subsides to the US aircraft maker, Boeing.   The preliminary list of products included several nut and dried fruit products (see previous post) which could be subject to additional tariffs. However, the EU is committed to seek a negotiated settlement of the dispute. In case both parties do not reach a deal, the EU would apply higher duties on some of the products included in the preliminary list published in spring 2019.   In October 2019, the WTO allowed the United States to take countermeasures against European exports worth up to $7.5 billion, which were imposed on October 18, 2019. Nuts and dried fruits were not included among the products. The EU based corporation Airbus took action concerning the other challenged measures earlier, so the WTO decision of October 13, 2020, addresses the last remaining measures condemned by the WTO.   EU and Airbus: Member States take action to ensure full compliance in the WTO aircraft dispute   EU: Tariffs On October 30, 2020, the EU published Regulation (EU) 2020/1577 Amending the Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature and on the Common Customs Tariff.   The regulation updates, among others, the following tariffs regarding nuts and dried fruits:   HS Code Product MFN Tariff 2020 MFN Tariff 2021 0802 90 50 Pine nuts (Pinus spp.) 2.00% 3.20% 0802 90 85 Other 2.00% 3.20% 0804 20 00 Dried Figs 5.60% 8:00%   This regulation enters into force on January 1, 2021.   Regulation (EU) 2020/1577 of 21 September 2020   EU: Political Agreement on Enforcement Regulation On October 28, 2020, the European Council presidency reached an agreement with the European Parliament on a revised enforcement regulation.   The aim of this revised enforcement regulation is to protect EU&#39;s trade interests and rights in the context of the current blockage of the World Trade Organization&#39;s (WTO) dispute settlement system. The regulation also ensures that the EU can enforce its trade rights if one of its partners blocks the normal dispute settlement mechanism under bilateral treaties.   This regulation will amend the existing one, in force since 2014, and will provide a common legislative framework for the enforcement of EU’s rights under international trade agreements.   Compared with the existing regulation, the agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council extends the scope of possible countermeasures, currently provided for areas such as customs duties, quantitative restrictions on imports and exports of goods, among others. This extension is accompanied by safeguards aimed to ensure that the most efficient and proportionate countermeasures are used and that national authorities and stakeholders are involved in the consultation process.   Before its entry into force, EU Member States have to approve the agreement by qualified majority.   Trade: EU reaches political agreement on updated enforcement regulation   Japan: In-Shell Walnuts from US Since September 16, 2020, Japan allows imports of all varieties of US in-shell walnuts.   According to a USDA GAIN Report, on September 16, 2020, Japan revised the Ordinance for the Enforcement of the Plant Protection Act with immediate effect. This revision allows exports to Japan of all varieties of US origin in-shell walnuts.   USDA GAIN Report: Japan Grants Market Access for All Varieties of US In-Shell Walnuts   UK: Border Operating Model On October 8, 2020, the UK Government updated the UK Border Operating Model, a guide to how the border with the European Union will work after the transition period.   The transition period with the EU will end on January 1, 2021, and the UK will operate a full, external border as a sovereign nation, meaning that controls will be placed on the movement of goods between the UK and the EU.   In order to give industry extra time to make necessary arrangements, the UK Government has taken the decision to introduce the new border controls in three stages up until July 1, 2021.   The Border with the European Union: Importing and Exporting Goods UK-Japan: Trade Agreement On October 23, 2020, the UK and Japan signed the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).   Both countries reached an agreement on September 11, 2020 (see previous post). The deal is tailored to both economies and has secured bilateral benefits for digital and data, financial services, food and drink, and creative industries, among others. The agreement is subject to the domestic internal procedures of both countries before it can be brought into force. UK and Japan sign free trade agreement UK-Ukraine: Trade Agreement On October 8, 2020, the UK and Ukraine signed a Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreement.   The aim of this agreement is ensuring ambitious cooperation in political, security and foreign matters, while also securing continued preferential trade for businesses and consumers. This agreement, when brought into force, will allow businesses to continue trading after the end of the Transition Period. It delivers the same level of liberalization in trade, services and public procurement that businesses currently enjoy under the existing EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.   The entry into force of this agreement is expected when the EU-Ukraine agreement ceases to apply to the UK at the end of the Transition Period. The agreement will be subject to the domestic parliamentary procedures in both the UK and Ukraine before it is brought into force.   UK and Ukraine sign Political, Free Trade and Strategic Partnership Agreementhttps://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-novemberINC Consumer Study Finds Energy Boosting and Digestive Healthy Foods Among the Fastest Growing Trends, with Immune Support Expected to GrowOctober 29, 2020.  Consuming foods that boost energy, and support digestive health are among the largest and fastest growing consumer trends. In a recent consumer trend study, it was found that these two markets are forecasted to be the fastest growers among the health and wellness category. By 2024, the market size for products boosting energy is forecasted to grow 50% and products supporting digestive health are forecasted to grow 32%. The study also showed that weight management was still the largest area of concern for consumers, however, it is not forecasted to grow as quickly as those previously mentioned. Furthermore, one interesting trend to keep on the radar is immune support. With many people concerned over the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer focus on a healthy diet will likely deepen. Already the trend research showed that companies are increasingly expanding into this market and this trend is expected to only grow in a post-COVID-19 normality. In North America, more than one-third of vitamin and mineral products advertise an immune supportive claim and in Asia-Pacific, nearly half of the vitamin and mineral products released within the last year promote an immune supportive claim. The trend research was conducted by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council as part of the 2020-2021 Dissemination plan in efforts to increase the global consumption of nuts and dried fruits while also circulating the health benefits.   Download the press release. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-consumer-study-finds-energy-boosting-and-digestive-healthy-foods-among-the-fastest-growing-trends-with-immune-support-expected-to-growCOVID-19 Update: October 28, 2020The worst affected countries are the United States, India and Brazil. Several nations in Europe, such as Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom imposed new restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar. However, limitations in Australia, South Korea and Singapore are expected to be gradually lifted because the number of new infections is decreasing. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned about the fact that new contagions are accelerating, especially in Europe and North America, as the northern hemisphere enters winter. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report which highlights the shifting risks of the agricultural landscape, including the economy-wide effects of external shocks such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued new regional economic outlooks for Western Hemisphere, Europe and Asia and Pacific, highlighting the economic and social effects of the pandemic in the aforementioned regions. WHO On October 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Wikimedia Foundation announced a collaboration to expand the public’s access to the latest and most reliable information regarding COVID-19. This collaboration is aimed at making trusted public health information available under freely-licensed resources when countries face resurgences of COVID-19 and social stability increasingly depends on the public’s shared understanding of the facts. Through the collaboration, people will be able to access and share WHO infographics, videos, and other public health assets on Wikimedia Commons, a digital library of free images and other multimedia. Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has taken steps to prevent an “infodemic”, which is defined as “an overabundance of information and the rapid spread of misleading or fabricated news, images, and videos”.   WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted the fact that new contagions are accelerating, as the northern hemisphere enters winter, especially in Europe and North America. “The number of people needing beds in hospitals and intensive care also increases (…) the virus has shown that when we let our guard down, it can surge back at breakneck speed and threaten hospitals and health systems” Dr. Adhanom stated. He also explained that over 180 countries joined COVAX, which represents the largest portfolio for potential COVID-19 vaccines and an effective way to share vaccines equitably across the world.   More recently, on October 23, Dr. Adhanom warned about the fact that the northern hemisphere is in a critical juncture and alerted that the next few months are expected to be tough. He urged leaders to take immediate action to prevent further unnecessary deaths, essential health services from collapsing and schools shutting again. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the new Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere, which projects a GDP contraction of 8.1% in 2020. Unlike in previous recessions, employment contracted more strongly than GDP in the second quarter of 2020, 20% on average for the five largest countries, and up to 40% in Peru. More people working in activities that require close physical proximity, and less teleworking have contributed to Latin America and Caribbean strong slowdown.   The IMF also issued the Regional Economic Outlook: Europe, which emphasizes the severe social and economic impact in Europe. Real GDP fell by about 40% in the second quarter (annualized quarter-over-quarter), with deeper contraction in advanced Europe, where the virus spread first, relative to emerging Europe. However, the report also indicates that the pandemic’s toll on Europe could have been much worse without the strong response to the crisis, which included fiscal packages, job retention programs, as well as monetary easing, among other measures. The October 2020 Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook highlights negative economic growth, at -2.2% in 2020. However, the IMF points out the region’s response to the pandemic with three lessons for the rest of the world: 1) early public health response to flatter the virus curve, 2) relaxing containment measures only after the virus has been suppressed, and with appropriate complementary policies, such as testing and contact tracing capacity, and 3) fiscal support to reduce the economic costs and stimulate recovery. WTO The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a report stating that global trade in services during the second quarter of 2020 dropped by 30% year-on-year, originated by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. The tourism sector was particularly hard hit, with international travelers’ expenditure down 81% and transport down 31%. These two sectors make up 43% of global services trade.  OECD The report ‘Strengthening Agricultural Resilience in the Face of Multiple Risks’, published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), highlights the new sources of risk producers are increasingly confronting, including climate change, unanticipated changes in policy, or the economy-wide effects of external shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to confront the multiple risks, a disciplined application of a holistic risk management strategy is required –specifically, taking decisions from a more proactive resilience perspective.   The OECD advocates for an agricultural risk management approach based on resilience (the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt and transform in response to adverse events) which emphasizes the importance of planning and prevention, while also ensuring that farming systems are flexible enough to respond to future uncertainty. The OECD approach also stresses the importance of considering systems and not just individuals, which means taking into account the impacts that the risk management strategies of individual farmers have on the resilience of the food system as a whole. Australia By the end of October, it is expected that Melbourne will be emerging from strict lockdown after Victoria state reported no new cases and no new deaths because of the pandemic for the first time in more than four months. The state had suffered a dramatic spike of new COVID-19 cases, peaking in August when hundreds of cases were daily reported. The decline in new cases has allowed the lifting of major social distancing measures that have been in place for weeks. However, some restrictions, including a limit on travel and an internal border between Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne, will remain in place until November 8.  China China imposed lockdown measures in the prefecture of Kashgar in the far western region of Xinjiang, because new infections were reported. In addition to this, the Government is expected to test nearly 5 million people in the region. The testing already performed identified more than 100 additional cases. The country’s approach at containing the spread of the pandemic includes drastic measures, such as strict lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and mass testing. In early October, the eastern port city of Qingdao tested more than 10 million people in just four days.   Hong Kong completed preparatory work on a “health code” that will be necessary for cross-border travel between mainland China and Macau. The next step is the discussion of its timeline and conditions. EU On October 23, the European Council adopted conclusions calling on the European Commission to create a pandemic and other major crisis contingency plan for the European freight transport sector. In addition to this, the European Council encourages the Commission to extend the contingency plan to passenger transport and transport in general, including EU-level coordination measures and clear guidelines.   The contingency plan should cover at least the following aspects: 1) maintaining cross-border freight transport operations along the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) corridors and other essential cross-border connections, as well as related ancillary services supporting the operation of that network, 2) ensuring free movement of transport workers while safeguarding the protection of their health and safety, 3) preparing guidelines and best-practice toolboxes in order to strengthen the sector&#39;s resilience, 4) setting up a coherent regulatory framework as regards exemptions to be applied when pandemics and other major crisis situations arise.   In addition, the European Council reviewed the list of third countries for which restrictions should be lifted. Based on the criteria and conditions set out in the recommendation, as from October 22, Member States should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay and China –subject to confirmation of reciprocity. Travel restrictions should also be gradually lifted for Hong Kong and Macau. This list will continue to be reviewed regularly and updated, if necessary. In addition to this, Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) also take part in this recommendation.   On October 21, EU Member States’ ambassadors agreed to start negotiations with the European Parliament on the EU4Health program (2021-2027). This program is a strong response to the pandemic, but also maintains a focus on long-term EU actions in the health field. It aims to improve public health in the EU and make the Union better prepared to cope with future health crises.   The EU4Health program aims to complement national policies and to promote coordination between them, in order to improve human health by: 1) protecting people in the Union from serious cross-border threats to health, 2) improving availability of health products and crisis relevant products, 3) strengthening the resilience and sustainability of health systems, 4) increasing the use of digital tools and services in the health area, and 5) strengthening the role of the EU in global health.  Belgium The number of new COVID-19 cases is growing, and the country is expected to tighten restrictive measures aimed to contain the spread of the pandemic. Some of the measures include enforcing working from home for most employees, imposing a nighttime curfew, reduce the opening hours of bars and restaurants, and limiting social interaction to two people outside their homes.  France France imposed a curfew from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am, which affects nearly 46 million people across the country. Initially, the curfew was imposed to Paris and its suburbs, but it has been extended to a total of 54 departments. This measure aims to contain the spread of the virus when France surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases.  Germany The number of new COVID-19 infections hit a new record high, as the country’s death toll passed 10,000 on October 24. The Government warned of a national lockdown, and advised citizens to reduce social contact to an absolute minimum in order to reduce the scope of the pandemic in the country. Local and regional authorities are allowed to impose their own rules, which may include travel restrictions, curfews for restaurants and bars, as well as tighter limits on social gatherings. Berlin implemented new restrictions such as wearing face masks in markets. Italy Italy imposed new restrictions in order to curb down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include wearing face coverings outdoors, a curfew on restaurants and bars from 6 pm, and shutting down gyms, pools and cinemas, among others. However, restaurants and cafes are able to serve takeout and delivery orders until midnight. The government promised financial aid to the food sector by November.  Spain Spain declared a national state of emergency on October 25, and imposed a curfew from 11 pm until 6 am. In addition to this, different Spanish regions are able to add up to an hour of flexibility if they want to modify the duration of the night curfew. Regional governments may also ban movement between districts, depending on public health needs. The state of emergency as well as other restrictions imposed may be extended for up to six months. United Kingdom Several regions across the UK imposed stricter restrictions, such as Nottinghamshire, Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Warrington. The aforementioned regions moved into the top tier of COVID-19 restrictions: gatherings of more than six people are not allowed, no household mixing indoors or outdoors is allowed, pubs and bars without serving meals will be closed, and there is guidance against traveling in and out of the area.   Due to a rise of new COVID-19 infections, UK authorities are likely to tighten restrictions on more regions across the country. Scotland and Northern Ireland established their own public health rules, and Wales introduced a 17-day lockdown for all its inhabitants, until November 9. India Festival celebrations in India such as Diwali, which will be celebrated by mid-November, and other major religious celebrations approaching are feared as a possible cause of a COVID-19 surge.   According to a recent USDA GAIN report, a growing container shortage has been reported in Mumbai, derailing exporters plans to take advantage of a recovery in export demand. Some of the factors involved in this shortage are sailing cancelations, the failure of shippers to return containers in a timely manner, and a steady decline in imports. Shortages have resulted in a 20-40% increase in freight rates. Chennai port introduced new measures aimed to improve port operations, such as the reduction of certain fees and charges, a new food inspection laboratory, direct port delivery, and the construction of a new road. Mundra and Mangalore ports report normal port operations. However, in Tuticorin, truck movement is slow due to a shortage of drivers.   The most recent update of the weekly port situation in India indicates that port operations are running normally in Mundra and Mangalore. There is no sufficient availability of containers in Mumbai. Truck movement is slow in Tuticorin and Kandla, which also experiences a lack of labor availability.   New Delhi is seeing a price hike in multiple vegetable products, due to heavy rains which slowed down the arrival of supplies, according to a recent USDA GAIN report. In addition to this, in Visakhapatnam edible oil prices have increased by 30% due to higher demand.  Malaysia The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Malaysian hotel, restaurant and institutional (HRI) sector, according to a recent USDA GAIN report. Before the pandemic, Malaysia’s HRI industry was one of the fastest growing sectors in the country’s economy. However, because of the travel restrictions, the sector has experienced a major drop in business with national hotel occupancy rates of 12-20% in July. Malaysian HRI industry is highly dependent on tourism. However, due to social distancing measures imposed across the country, food delivery services have increased dramatically in urban areas.  Peru Peru, as many other countries, have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent USDA GAIN report, the country experienced a quarantine of almost five months, but most sectors have progressively resumed activities. A negative GDP growth is expected for the current year, in addition to increasing unemployment rates, linked with a decrease in household consumption. Singapore Singapore is planning to ease some of the COVID-19 mitigation measures, including the increase of gatherings of people from five to eight, as well as permitting weddings, religious and business events before the end of the year. The Government announced the road map towards Singapore’s final phase of reopening. South Korea The country started easing restrictions as the spread of the COVID-19 declined. As a consequence, the Government relieved certain social distancing-related restrictions, stadiums opened again to the public and sanctuaries resumed in-person services. However, this week, South Korea reported double digit-increase in new cases due to small clusters of infections in Seoul and its surrounding province, as well as imported cases. Since January, the country has tested more than 2.5 million people.  Thailand According to a USDA GAIN report, the food service sector in Thailand accounts for about 13% of the country’s GDP. The pandemic caused a severe contraction in the sector, due to lockdown measures as well as international travel restrictions. Restaurant sales revenue dropped severely during the first half of 2020. According to the Thai Restaurant Business Association, approximately 10 or 15% of restaurant business operators are expected to shut down by the end of the year. However, food delivery services were exempted from the lockdown and continued providing food, experiencing a rapid growth in business. United States On October 23, the US reported the highest number of COVID-19 infections in one day, more than 80,000 since the pandemic started. The number of hospitalized people across the country increased by 33% since the beginning of October. More than 30 states are having upticks of new cases. As the pandemic continues to spread, some states have imposed domestic travel restrictions. For example, the State of New York requires travelers from high-risk areas to self-quarantine for 14 days and to fill out health forms.   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a fourth round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The budget for this round is $500 million, and it is expected to deliver food boxes based on the internal needs of each state, from November 1 until December 31. The third round has delivered more than $2.981 billion worth of food to date. Vietnam The food service sector in Vietnam has suffered a negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a USDA GAIN report. For 2020, the World Bank forecasts a 2.8% GDP decrease due to the impact of the pandemic. In addition to this, the Government of Vietnam lowered its 2020 GDP growth target from 6.8% to 2.5%, in the most favorable scenario. However, the country is expected to recover fast from the outbreak, as the World Bank forecasts that the country’s GDP growth for the next year could be of 6.7%.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-october-28-2020Real Power for Real People Campaign Launches TodayThe Real Plant-Based Power Real Power for Real People connects nuts & dried fruits to attitudinal immunity. The campaign utilizes the plant-based power and the “Real Power” of nuts and dried fruits to show how they boost your attitudinal immunity. While this concept is not the traditional meaning of “immunity”, it is essential, as it represents an individual’s ability to resist the negativity that surrounds us and gives them the power to overcome any challenges. And we all know that in the world today, there is just too much negativity, from the COVID-19 pandemic, social issues, to individual bad news that brings us down. Luckily by consuming nuts and dried fruits, we can have the power to take back control and beat any negativity that comes our way! Share Your Nutfruit Power With the official launch of the dissemination campaign, the INC has created a short one-minute video to pose as the main tool of the campaign. This video highlights how with nuts and dried fruits, we can be confident, powerful, and fight off any negativity in our lives! Furthermore, joining the campaign is a long list of macro and micro influencers, all with the goal to energize their followers with this message! Be on the lookout for social media hashtags such as #RealPowerforRealPeople and #ShareYourNutfruitPower to see the campaign in action! Additionally, as in previous campaigns, the INC will promote Real Power for Real People through digital advertising to expand the reach of the campaign! Join the INC&#39;s New Campaign Now Making this project special though, and giving it the ability to reach new levels of consumers is the Toolkit designed by the INC. This toolkit can be sent to INC Members who wish to participate in Real Power for Real People and with digital resources and material provided in the Toolkit, members can now spread the message in their own markets! This is an extraordinary part of the plan that provides members to partner up with the INC and take this project global. Any INC members who are interested in receiving a toolkit and participating in this campaign will need to email the INC at inc@nutfruit.org.   Together as a united industry, this campaign can promote the consumption of nuts and dried fruits on an international scale! Join now as Real Power for Real People officially launches today! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/real-power-for-real-people-campaign-launches-todayINC to Host First Online Conference for the Entire Nut & Dried Fruit IndustryAs COVID-19 continues to affect lives and businesses around the world, we must learn to adapt. The INC Online Conference 2020 is a new digital meeting point created by the INC to allow members and guests to virtually come together during a hectic and difficult time. With three working groups representing all regions of the world, led by industry experts, this conference is the must-not-miss event for the nut and dried fruit industry! Moreover, insightful seminars and knowledge sessions, such as the Nutrition & Research Webinar, Scientific & Regulatory Webinar, and Industry Marketing Programs Update, give you all the more reason to attend! Registration will open on November 2, 2020. Check out the INC Online Conference website for more information! INC Online Conference Keynote Speakers Furthermore, the INC has already confirmed two internationally respected keynote speakers, Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist at the Australian National Bank and Haim Israel, Managing Director and Global Strategist who heads up the Global Thematic  Research team for Bank of America.  Alan Oster&#39;s speech will be titled, "Global Overview & Australia – Impact of COVID-19 in near and medium term" and Haim Israel&#39;s will be "Transforming World! The World after Covid". Alan Oster, Group Chief Economist, Australian National Bank Alan Oster is NAB’s Group Chief Economist. Alan joined the Bank in 1992 from the Federal Treasury where he worked for 15 years - his special field being economic forecasting and monetary policy. He grew up in Newcastle and graduated (with first class honours) in economics from Newcastle University. He also holds a Masters degree in economics from the Australian National University. Immediately before joining the Bank, Alan was the Senior Adviser in Treasury responsible for economic forecasting and modelling. In 1987 he was seconded for nearly four years as Counsellor-Economic and Financial with Australia’s delegation to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. As Group Chief Economist, Alan is responsible for NAB’s global economic and financial forecasts. He is also a highly respected and much quoted commentator on Australian and global economic trends and policy issues. Haim Israel,  Global Strategist, Managing Director of Research, Bank of America Haim Israel is a Managing Director and Global Strategist who heads up the Global Thematic  Research team. Prior to this position, Israel was the head of Bank of America’s EEMEA Technology,  Media and Telecommunication Research team, as well as the head of Israeli Research. In 2020, Israel and team were ranked in first place as the best Thematic Research and ESG – Integrated Climate Change teams in the Institutional Investor Extel Global Survey. Israel attained his MBA from The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and also holds a dual major in Finance & Business. For more information about any award cited, visit https://rsch.baml.com/awards. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-to-host-first-online-conference-for-the-entire-nut-dried-fruit-industryCOVID-19 Update: October 14, 2020According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the pandemic could kill more than 2 million people by the end of the year. The death toll is accelerating because of the high infection rate of the virus and the fact that control measures are not sufficiently coordinated and systematic. In addition to this, the Northern Hemisphere could see a spike in cases as winter and flu seasons are approaching. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the World Economic Outlook, which shows that lockdowns contributed considerably to the economic recession and had disproportional effects on vulnerable groups. The World Trade Organization (WTO) reduced the size of global trade contraction in 2020, as lockdowns ease and economies reopen. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) issued a joint statement on the impact of COVID-19 on people’s livelihoods, their health and food systems. The statement stressed the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating, due to the fact that tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, and the number of undernourished people could double by the end of the year. Furthermore, nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods.    The pandemic affects the entire food system. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures have been preventing farmers from accessing markets, including for buying inputs and selling their produce, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets. The pandemic has decimated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at risk.    In the COVID-19 crisis, several issues such as food security, public health, and employment and labor issues, in particular workers’ health and safety, converge. Immediate and purposeful action to save lives and livelihoods should include extending social protection towards universal health coverage and income support for those most affected.   The statement also advocates for global solidarity and support, especially with the most vulnerable, particularly in the emerging and developing world, and for the need to develop long-term sustainable strategies to address the challenges of health and agri-food sectors. The priority should be also to address food security and malnutrition challenges. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the World Economic Outlook, which shows that lockdowns contributed considerably to the recession and had disproportional effects on vulnerable groups. However, the recession has been also largely driven by people who voluntarily refrain from social interactions because they fear contracting the virus. Therefore, lifting lockdowns may not lead to an economic boost if infection rates are high, due to the fact that people may voluntarily adhere to social distancing measures.   The analysis concludes that lockdowns impose short-term costs but may lead to a faster economic recovery as they lower infections and thus the extent of voluntary social distancing. However, the effectiveness of lockdowns in reducing infections is linked to the evolution of the epidemic itself: If lockdown measures are taken early, they may lead to a faster economic recovery by containing the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. The analysis also finds that the health crisis has disproportionate effects on the most vulnerable groups.   Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, stressed that the IMF has projected a severe global GDP contraction in 2020, as well as a long, uncertain partial and uneven recovery in 2021. It is estimated that global public debt will reach a record-high of about 100 percent of GDP in 2020. For almost all countries, the pandemic represents a setback to the improvement of living standards in the medium term. In order to confront the crisis and push for transformations, Georgieva listed the IMF immediate priorities: 1) defend people’s health, 2) avoid premature withdrawal of policy support, 3) flexible and forward-leaning fiscal policy, and 4) deal with debt, especially in low-income countries. WTO On October 6, the World Trade Organization revised the Annual Trade Outlook 2020, first published in April and updated in June, which now forecasts a 9.2% decline in the volume of world merchandise trade for the current year. In 2021, it is expected to rise by  7.2%, which is a figure well below the pre-pandemic trend. The new projected decline is lower than the 12.9% drop foreseen previously in April. These forecasts are subject to an unusually high degree of uncertainty; they depend on the evolution of the pandemic as well as the different responses by governments worldwide.   In addition to this, WTO also estimates that global GDP is predicted to fall by 4.8% in 2020, but it is expected to rise by 4.9% in 2021. The trade decline in Asia is expected at 4.5% for exports and 4.4% for imports in the current year, which is smaller than in other regions. However, downside risks will still predominate, especially if there is a resurgence of global COVID-19 cases in the coming months. Australia On October 9, for the first time in three months, Australia recorded a second straight day without a COVID-19 related death. Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, which represents the epicenter of Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak, reported less than 200 active infections.   Because of the reduced risk of COVID-19 transmission in Northern New South Wales, Queensland Government eliminated the Queensland border zone. From October 1, Queensland residents can travel anywhere in the NSW border zone for any purpose. In addition to this, NSW border zone residents can travel anywhere in Queensland for any purpose.   Queensland Government has announced a new $1.1 million funding package to get more seasonal workers onto farms. The package includes a pilot ‘Back to work in Agriculture Incentive Scheme’, a #pickQld Campaign and a Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network support. Growcom, the institution that represents Queensland’s fruit, vegetable and nut growers, published some recommendations on finding seasonal workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which impacted negatively the sector. China China has announced massive COVID-19 testing, to nearly 9 million people, in the eastern city of Qingdao, following an outbreak at a city’s hospital. This announcement comes after two months without any community transmission and most cases imported from people traveling into the country.   Some media outlets point out that a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in Hong Kong may be possible, due to a combination of factors, such as untraceable cases, sick travelers slipping checks, as well as the looming flu season. EU The Eurogroup published its work program until June 2021, with a focus on several priority policy areas to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis: 1) Economic and fiscal policies to support recovery and long-term growth, 2) Strengthening the Banking Union, 3) The euro as a digital currency, 4) Carefully monitoring the potential opportunities and advantages, but also the risks of an enhanced international role of the euro, and 5) Strengthening the connection with European citizens and increasing their sense of ownership of the euro and of the Economic and Monetary Union.   As for the circulation of goods, taking into account that the difficulties to perform official controls and other official activities will persist, the EC has decided to extend, for the third time, the use of electronic documentation until February 1, 2021, through the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1341 of September 28, 2020, which prolongs the period of application of Regulation (EU) 2020/466 of 30 March 2020.   On October 9, Member States&#39; EU ambassadors agreed to the European Council position on the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which is the centerpiece of the Next Generation EU recovery instrument designed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and the green and digital transitions challenges. This initiative is expected to support with €672.5 billion of public investments and reforms, and to contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion within the EU.   The European Council has adopted conclusions on strengthening minimum income protection in the EU, inviting the Member States and the Commission to work together to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, which highlights the principle that everyone lacking sufficient resources has the right to adequate minimum income benefits ensuring dignity at all stages of life. The Council has also adopted conclusions on improving the working and living conditions of seasonal and other mobile workers. Furthermore, the Council approved a recommendation to coordinate measures affecting free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, intending to avoid fragmentation and disruption, and increasing transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses. Belgium Brussels has closed cafes and bars for a month until November 8. In addition to this, the country is expected to return to a full lockdown, because new infections and hospital admissions are rising again. In order to mitigate the risk of new infections, the Belgian Government has tightened national measures, including the limitation of public or private gatherings to four people, the closure of bars at 11 pm, as well as the strong recommendation of working from home several days a week, among other limitations. France France announced new COVID-19 related restrictions on October 8, as the number of new cases increased significantly. Paris and Marseille, among other territories, have been put at maximum alert in recent weeks, which includes the closure of bars and cafes. France’s health minister urged people to help fight the virus by wearing face masks and keeping social distancing. Germany In Germany, the number of new infections is gradually rising, and the German disease control agency has warned that the country could see up to 10,000 new COVID-19 cases per day if hygienic and social distancing measures are not strictly followed. Health Minister has urged people to follow COVID-19 prevention measures, and played down the possibility of imposing national lockdowns, stating that regional measures are preferred. Health authorities have also urged people not to travel to and from regions with more than 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Italy The Italian Government offers soft loans, export credit support, passive minority stake investment as well as consulting and other assistance to national companies, especially SMEs, in order to help them to internationalize. Simest, a state-controlled company within the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Group, has received requests totaling €3 billion for loans. In addition to this, the Italian Government pumped €100 billion in stimulus to the economy, and part of these funds went to Simest.   Due to a resurgence of cases in Belgium, Italy requires travelers from this country to get tested for COVID-19 before entering to the country. Travelers from the Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK are also required to provide COVID-19 negative testing results. Italy also strengthened certain prevention measures, for instance, it is mandatory to wear face masks outdoors. Spain A recent USDA GAIN Report assessed the impact of the COVID-19 on the Spanish Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sector. Spain received more than 72% fewer tourists during the first seven months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The country spent seven weeks of strict confinement and restaurants and other hospitality venues were closed. After that, only the limit capacity is allowed. The hospitality sector estimates that nearly 40,000 businesses have already closed and, under the current scenario, about 65,000 establishments could close by the end of the year. During the strictest confinement period, more than two million new customers used food delivery services.   Due to a rise in the number of new cases, the Government declared the State of Emergency in Madrid. There are movement restrictions and people are only allowed to travel for work, school or an emergency. United Kingdom A recent USDA GAIN Report gives an overview of the UK food service sector. The COVID-19 impacted both the UK economy and the hospitality industry, which in 2019 was estimated to be worth $71 billion USD. Pubs and restaurants were closed for more than three months, but were allowed to open for takeaway or delivery service. The Government issued the “Eat Out to Help Out Scheme” which ran from Monday to Wednesdays in August and allowed customers 50% off their dine in meal up to £10.00 ($13.00) per person. The initiative was a resounding success which raised bookings 216% compared to the same day in 2019.   Further restrictions have been applied. Since September 14, there is a limitation of six people allowed to meet, and since September 24, restaurants, pubs and bars have to close by 10 pm. India The port situation in India, according to a recent USDA GAIN Report, is generally improving. In Mumbai, cargo truck and laborer availability is rising as lockdown restrictions gradually decline. Mundra port is expected to introduce a new train access charge of approx. USD $103 from November 1. In Mangalore, minor disruptions have been reported. Due to adverse weather conditions, over 175 fishing boards anchored suddenly at the port. Kolkata port is accelerating its efforts in order to digitalize port operations. By doing so, port authorities expect to ensure greater accountability and reduce delays and logistical costs.   In Mumbai, in September, the port handled 95% of the cargo carried during the same month last year. Several initiatives such as direct port entry, internal terminal rail handling, and the installation of scanners among others, are expected to make the port much more efficient as cargo volumes recover pre-pandemic levels. Cargo volume drops during the period of April-September, compared to the same period last year, were the following: Kandla cargo volume dropped 13%, Chennai 26% drop, Mangalore 7% drop, Kolkata 19% drop and Cochin cargo volume dropped 24%.   The food service sector in India has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19. According to a new USDA GAIN Report, some of the challenges faced by the sector are: 1) falling occupancy rates, 2) limited restaurant operations, 3) travel cancellations, and 4) decline in social gatherings, among others. However, it is expected that the sector will begin to recover next year.   According to the latest Weekly Food Retail Update, the situation of the food and retail sector in India is the following: in the State of Assam vegetable prices are soaring, due to supply disruptions caused by rains and floods in the major growing areas. The intervention of authorities is expected in order to control the price hikes. Koyambedu Market, the primary produce and grain market in Chennai, has been partially reopened after being closed for five months. The market applies strict social distancing, hygienic and testing measures. In Pune, vegetable and fruit market vendors have to be screened. In addition to screenings, there are strict social distancing and monitoring measures to control the spread of the epidemic.  Singapore The hotel, restaurant and institutional sector in Singapore is traditionally fueled by both consumer spending and tourism. However, the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent movement restrictions caused a major drop in business, according to a recent USDA GAIN Report.   Singapore announced that is considering more “air travel bubbles” with countries deemed to be safe. To avoid a 14-day quarantine, travelers from Hong Kong, for instance, would be asked to stick to a controlled itinerary. South Korea South Korea reported a rising number of new COVID-19 infections during the first week of October, according to The Associated Press. Nearly all the confirmed cases were in the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been suffering a resurgence of infections since mid-August. United States Half of US states reported rises in the number of new COVID-19 infections. Some states announced further measures to contain the spread of the pandemic. Wisconsin is now limiting public gatherings to 25% of the total occupancy of a room or a building. In Kentucky, wearing face masks is mandatory, as the state is suffering a major escalation of COVID-19 cases. There are clusters of new cases in New York, and schools and essential businesses are obliged to close. These announcements may represent a first sign of tightening restrictions across the US as a challenging season is approaching.   In addition to this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast that the total death toll related to COVID-19 may rise to 233,000 people by the end of October. COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-october-14-2020Pesticides Update: OctoberAustralia and New Zealand: MRLs Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued the Variations to Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (September 8, 2020).    The table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The maximum residue limits (MRLs) for clothianidin in almonds is substituted by 0.05 ppm. Deadline for comments is October 6, 2020. The amendment can be found here. Brazil: MRLs Update The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has notified the World Trade Organization of the draft resolution regarding the active ingredient F66 – Flubendiamida of the Monograph List of Active Ingredients for Pesticides, Household Cleaning Products and Wood Preservers, published by Resolution RE n° 165 of 29 August 2003, on the Official Gazette (DOU Diário Oficial da União) of 2 September 2003. The MRL for flubendiamida in groundnut culture is set at 0.1 ppm with a safety security period of 20 days. The final date for comments is October 24, 2020.   F66 – Flubendiamida Canada: MRLs Update Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has adopted the proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for fenpropathrin in tree nuts and inpyrfluxam in peanuts.   As previously announced, the PMRLs for fenpropathrin in tree nuts was adopted on September 6, 2020. The MRL for fenpropathrin in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is set at 0.15 ppm, replacing the currently established MRL of 0.10 ppm.   The MRL for inpyrfluxam in peanuts is set at 0.01 ppm since September 23, 2020.   Health Canada Database   In addition, the Agency has proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for oxathiapiprolin.   The PMRL for oxathiapiprolin in raisins is set at 1.3 ppm. The final date for comments is December 6, 2020.   Consultation on oxathiapiprolin, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2020-31 China: MRLs Update China&#39;s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published a public consultation on Maximum Residue Limits of 187 Pesticides in or on food with due date for comments November 16, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. EFSA: MRLs Review The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Review of the existing maximum residue levels for chlorantraniliprole according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. Based on the assessment of the available data, maximum residue level (MRL) proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out. Although no apparent risk to consumers was identified, some information required by the regulatory framework was missing. Hence, the consumer risk assessment is considered indicative only and some MRL proposals still require further consideration by risk managers.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Chlorantraniliprole Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts 0.05 0.03 MRL is derived from a GAP evaluated at EU level, which is fully supported by data and for which no risk to consumers is identified.  * Indicates lower limit of determination. EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for chlorantraniliprole according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(9):6235 EU: Pesticide Withdrawals The approval of the active substance benalaxyl has not been renewed (see previous post). On September 15, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1280 of 14 September 2020 concerning the non-renewal of the approval of the active substance benalaxyl.   Member States shall withdraw authorizations for plant protection products containing benalaxyl as an active substance by April 5, 2021. However, any grace period granted by Member States shall expire by October 5, 2021, at the latest. This Regulation shall enter into force on October 5, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1280 of 14 September 2020 EU: Pesticides, Standing Committee The last meeting of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section Phytopharmaceuticals – Residues, took place in September 28-29, 2020 (agenda).   The following drafts were presented for an opinion: Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for aclonifen, boscalid, etofenprox, ferric pyrophosphate, L-cysteine, lambdacyhalothrin, maleic hydrazide, mefentrifluconazole, cow milk, sodium 5- nitroguaiacolate, sodium o-nitrophenolate, sodium p-nitrophenolate and triclopyr in or on certain products (Art. 10) (here). The MRL for mefentrifluconazole in apricots is set at 0.7 ppm, in prunes at 0.5 ppm, and in grapes at 0.9 ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for diclofop, fluopyram, ipconazole and terbuthylazine in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for diclofop in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for fluopyram in tree nuts is set at 0.03 ppm, in prunes at 0.6 ppm, in grapes at 2 ppm, in cranberries at 4 ppm, and in peanuts at 0.02. The MRL for terbuthylazine in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for fluxapyroxad, hymexazol, metamitron, penflufen and spirotetramat (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for fluxapyroxad in apricots is set at 0.15 ppm. The MRL for hymexazol in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metamitron in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for penflufen in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for spirotetramat in cranberries is set at 1.5 ppm, and in dates, figs and peanuts at 0.02* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for benalaxyl, benalaxyl-M, dichlobenil, fluopicolide, proquinazid, and pyrdalyl (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for benalaxyl (including benalaxyl-M) in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm, and in grapes at 0.7 ppm. The MRL for dichlobenil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for proquinazid in apricots, plums, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pyrdalyl in peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for carbon tetrachloride, chlorothalonil, chlorpropham, dimethoate, ethoprophos, fenamidone, methiocarb, omethoate, propiconazole and pymetrozine in or on certain products (here). The MRL for chlorothalonil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for dimethoate in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for ethoprophos in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for fenamidone in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for methiocarb in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.03* ppm. The MRL for omethoate in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for propiconazole in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pymetrozine in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for chlordecone in or on certain products (here). The drafts presented for discussion were the following: Exchange of views of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for metam, dazomet, hexythiazox, clethodim and sethoxydim (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for clethodim in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metam in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for hexythiazox in tree nuts is set at 0.05 ppm; in apricots and plums at 0.7 ppm; and in cranberries, figs and peanuts at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for sethoxydim in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm; and in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.01* ppm. Exchange of views of the Committee on a draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for ametoctradin, bixafen, fenazaquin, spinetoram, tefluthrin and thiencarbazone-methyl in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). India: MRLs Update The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Amendment Regulations 2020.   The Draft changes the following maximum residue limits (MRLs) for groundnuts: The MRL for difenoconazole in groundnut is set at 0.01 ppm. The MRL for mancozeb in groundnut is set at 0.01 ppm. The MRL for flubendiamide in groundnut is set at 0.02 ppm. The MRL for imidacloprid in groundnut seed is set at 0.05 ppm. The MRL for indoxacarb in groundnut is set at 0.05* ppm. The MRL for novaluron in groundnut is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for propaquizafop in groundnut seed is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for tebuconazole in groundnut seed is set at 0.05 ppm. The MRL for trifloxystrobin in groundnut is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for fluxapyroxad in groundnut is set at 0.05* ppm. The MRL for methoxyfenozide in groundnut is set at 0.02* ppm. * indicates that the maximum residue limit is set at the limit of determination.   The final date for comments is November 8, 2020.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-octoberFood Safety Update: OctoberEU: Plastic Materials The European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1245 of 2 September 2020 amending and correcting Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.   This Regulation amends Annexes I, II, IV and V. Plastic materials and articles complying with Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 as applicable before the entry into force of this Regulation, and which were first placed on the market before March 23, 2021, may continue to be placed on the market until September 23, 2022 and remain on the market until the exhaustion of stocks.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1245 of 2 September 2020 India: Food Safety and Standards The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2011.   Among other products, this draft modifies the walnut kernel standard by inserting a new definition of walnut kernel and the requirements of several parameters together with their definition.   The final date for comments is November 22, 2020.   More information USA: Food Traceability On September 21, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the proposed rule ““Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods” (Food Traceability Proposed Rule) to establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods included on the Food Traceability List.   The Food Traceability Proposed Rule is a key component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and pursues to identify recipients of foods to prevent or mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks in a quick and efficient manner.   The foods identified in the Food Traceability List will require additional traceability records. Nut butter (includes all types of tree nut and peanut butters; does not include soy or seed butters) is listed.   The proposed rule was published on September 23 in the Federal Register. The deadline for submitting comments is January 21, 2021. The final date for submitting comments (including recommendations) on the collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is November 23, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 185. Friday, September 23, 2020. Pages 59984-60038 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-octoberOfficial Controls Update: OctoberChina, Taiwan: Phytosanitary Certificates The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu notified the World Trade Organization of the extension of the Implementation Period of the Temporary Alternative Arrangements of the Presentation of Original Veterinary and Phytosanitary Certificates in the Condition of COVID-19 Pandemic.   As previously notified, several alternative arrangements were implemented to the presentation of original veterinary or phytosanitary certificates until August 31, 2020. The implementation period has been extended until December 21, 2020, because of the global COVID-19 situation.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-update-octoberOrganic Production: OctoberEU: Organic Production Consultation The EU Commission has opened a public consultation about the action plan for the development of EU organic production.   Through the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies, published in May 2020, the Commission has committed to reach at least 25% of EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and a significant increase in organic aquaculture, both to improve the sustainability of the food system and to revert biodiversity loss. To achieve this, the Commission proposed setting up an action plan to help Member States stimulate both supply and demand of organic products, ensure consumer’s trust through promotion activities and green public procurement, and respond to the challenges in reaching the target.   The objective of this public consultation is to collect and analyze the opinion and ideas of citizens, civil society, Member States authorities and concerned sectoral organizations on actions to be developed.   The deadline for submitting comments is November 27, 2020.   Organic farming - action plan for the development of EU organic production EU: Organic Production On September 18, 2020, the European Union notified the World Trade Organization of three Draft Commission Delegated Regulations amending or supplementing Regulation (EU) 2018/848.   The Draft Commission Delegated Regulation as regards the requirements for groups of operators and the model of certificate attesting compliance with the rules on organic production, lays down the provisions on groups of operators and amends the model of the certificate provided to operators or group of operators. The Draft Commission Delegated Regulation on the specific criteria and conditions for the checks of documentary accounts in the framework of official controls in organic production and the official controls of groups of operators, will supplement the Regulation (EU) 2018/848 by laying down further rules on traceability and mass balance checks, as well as on specific controls on groups of operators.   The Draft Commission Implementing Regulation on controls and other measures ensuring traceability and compliance in organic production and the labeling of organic products lays down the rules for precautionary measures and investigation in case of suspicion of non-compliance due to the presence of non-authorized products and substance, labeling, group of operators, minimum additional controls, national catalogs of measures and exchange of information between different bodies and authorities for organics. The deadline for comments is November 17, 2020. The proposed date of adoption is November 2020. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/organic-production-octoberLatest Trade News and Agreements: OctoberEU: Call for Participation, Domestic Advisory Groups The Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission (DG Trade) aims to renew the membership of eight EU Domestic Advisory Groups (DAGs), under its existing trade agreements and inviting members for two new EU DAGs. Current EU trade agreements provide for the involvement of civil society in advising on the implementation of Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Chapters through the creation of DAGs.   The list of DAGs that are being renewed or set up is the following: Central America Colombia/Ecuador/Peru Georgia Moldova Ukraine Singapore South Korea Vietnam Canada Cariforum Candidate organizations need to fulfill the following criteria: Be a civil society organization. Be not for profit. Represent or defend EU interests. Be registered in the EU Transparency Register and in DG Trade’s civil society database. The candidate(s) designated must have specific professional expertise or competence in the area of trade policy, and in particular with regard to the areas covered by the trade and sustainable development chapter of the agreement(s) they are proposed to cover. In selecting EU-DAG members, the Commission will seek to achieve a balanced and diverse membership, representing different civil society segments.   The deadline for submitting comments is October 15, 2020.   Call for Expression of Interest in participation in EU Domestic Advisory Groups   UK-Japan: Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement On September 11, 2020, the UK and Japan reached a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.    This agreement is expected to give UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a number of areas: tariff-free access for more goods, improved mobility for business people, and digital and data provisions, among others.   UK-Japan: Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-octoberFRUCOM Working Group on SustainabilityThe objective of the meeting, attended by almost 40 representatives from different private companies and national associations, was to give an update of the different strategies that the European Commission is developing under the roadmap ‘The European Green Deal’.   Ms. Anna Boulova, FRUCOM Secretary General, gave an overview of the expected EU legal proposals planned for the following years within the framework of The Green Deal approved in May 2020. The Green Claims Initiative and the Environmental Footprint (EF) methods were explained by Ms. Emmanuelle Maire, Head of Sustainable Production, Products and Consumption, DG ENVIRONMENT, European Commission. She said that the EC is exploring what EF methodology can be used in developing criteria for product policy measures. The EC will propose that companies substantiate their environmental claims using EF methods. Next speaker, Mr. Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, CEEV (EU Wine association) Secretary General, shared the wine sector experience in the development of the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) on wine. He concluded that although PEFCR is a great tool to identify companies hotspots and opportunities to improve production, it is too expensive for a mandatory implementation, there are uncertainties (problems with datasets and benchmarking), and there is a risk of oversimplifying the message to the consumers.   Finally, Ms. Astrid Baeten, FRUCOM Responsible for Sustainability, presented the preliminary work on the sustainability risk assessment for FRUCOM products. The preliminary document draws an overall picture of the nut sector in terms of sustainability. The objective of this document is to serve as communication basis for the sector achievements, for discussion on possible gaps, for identifying possibilities for joint initiatives, and for members to start their own due diligence process in the supply chain. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/frucom-working-group-on-sustainability-1Webinar on MycotoxinsThe objective of the webinar was to give an overview of the efforts made by the countries of origin, the import controls and the legislative amendments. Mr. Jens Borchert, FRUCOM Vice-President, opened the Session with a presentation about mycotoxins in nuts and dried fruits, focusing on the outcomes of the risk assessments published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Mr. Borchert remarked that the level of consumption of nuts and dried fruits is very low compared to other food categories but they are tested more often.   Representatives from different national associations gave an overview of the different mitigation measures put in place in farms and processing steps. Ms. Julie Adams, Vice President, Global Technical & Regulatory Affairs, Almond Board of California, gave an overview of the almond industry in California, highlighting the Pre-export Check (PEC) program put in place in 2015. The aflatoxins and Ochratoxin A (OTA) mitigation measures in Turkish dried fruits were explained by Prof. Dr. Uygun Aksoy, Aegean Exporters’ Association. There is a monitoring program in place since 2005 and more that 100,000 are analyzed per year. Mr. Hasan Sabir, Board member of the Black Sea Hazelnut Exporters’ Association, highlighted that the quality of the hazelnut crops in Turkey is very good since 2019, as the low number of RASFF notifications indicates. Ms. Courtney Dorsett, American Peanut Council/TNA, acknowledged the issue of AFL as one of the main challenges that the American peanut industry has to face. Regarding the US pistachio industry, Dr. Robert Klein, Administrative Committee for Pistachios, agreed that contamination is linked to insect damage, being the Navel Orangeworm the most important pest.   During the second part of the webinar, speakers from EU and national competent authorities talked about the EU controls. First speaker, Dr. Martien Spanjer, NVWA, Nederlandse Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit (Food Safety Authority of the Netherlands) summarized the RASFF alerts/notifications for OTA in figs and pistachios of the last years. Since 2004, there have been 88 alerts/notifications for OTA in figs (50 from Germany, 22 from the Netherlands and 16 from others). In the case of pistachios, 31 alerts have been recorded since 2005 by the Netherlands, being higher the frequency in the last three years. Mr. Frans Verstraete, Deputy Head of Unit, Food processing technologies and novel foods, DG SANTE, European Commission, gave an update of the policy developments on import controls in the EU and on regulatory levels in EU and Codex. He informed that the draft maximum limits for OTA that are currently under discussion are: 8 ppb for dried grapes and figs; 2 ppb for other dried fruits; and 5 ppb for pistachios. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/webinar-on-mycotoxins-by-frucom-1In Memoriam Richard DoggettLanding in Australia from the UK marked the start of a great adventure for Richard – he worked as an outback jackaroo, the general manager of Richmond Tigers AFL club, a senior executive at Conrad Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, a fish and chip shop owner and most recently, a macadamia farmer in Numulgi, NSW. And these roles are just the ones we know of; those who knew him longer and better could add many more experiences to this list. Richard was an AMS member for more than two decades and was first elected to the Board in 2010.  He served as the Chair of the audit committee and as Company Secretary, becoming Deputy Chair in 2013 and taking the Chair in 2014. He also served on the industry marketing committee.  This year marked a full decade of service to the Society by Richard. And what effective service it has been. Over the last 6 years as Chair, Richard steered the AMS through some of the most successful and prosperous times the Society has experienced. Under his leadership, the Society has never been more engaged with members and the broader industry or more highly regarded by key institutions and government.  But to measure Richard just by his deeds is to miss the real mark of him. He was kind, compassionate and polite to everyone he encountered. Our staff have fond memories of the casual chats they would have with him in the office. He was articulate, clever and well-respected. He had the ability to bring calm and reason to any discussion. And above all, he was a gentleman. In his time on the board he never raised his voice, despite considerable provocation on occasion. He always looked for the good in everyone and everything, and, like Lord Nelson, would put the telescope to the blind eye when it came to faults and failings. His vast and impressive list of career achievements illustrate the enthusiastic sense of adventure and love of life that flowed through Richard; the world of macadamias seems less bright, the possibilities not quite as boundless now that he is gone.  Richard Doggett made an outstanding contribution to the Society and to the Australian macadamia industry. On behalf of the Board, the staff and the members we say thank you and farewell. This text was provided by the Australian Macadamia Society. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/vale-richard-doggettStay Tuned In for the Real Power for Real People CampaignWhat Is Attitudinal Immunity and Plant-Based Power? When someone talks about immunity, attitudinal immunity is not the initial example that comes to mind, yet it is tremendously important. Attitudinal immunity can be simply described as a person’s ability to fight against external factors that attempt to bring them down. These external factors can range from negative thoughts and all the bad news reported every day to discrimination and pessimism. The idea is that it does not matter how strong our physical body is, if we are not immune to the negative influences, eventually we will fall. One way to improve and better your attitudinal immunity is to feed your body with nutritional real food like nuts and dried fruits. Nuts and dried fruits give your body real power and this helps with facing challenges that we all encounter on a daily basis because after all, we are all real people. We all can be susceptible to negative influences, but with assistance from real food, we can take a step towards building our attitudinal immunity. This notion gives way to the campaign’s official slogan: Real Power for Real People. Real Power for Real People Campaign Coming Soon The INC continues to work on the launch of the Real Power for Real People campaign and you are going to want to be a part of this global campaign! Keep an eye out for the launch, which is poised to promote nuts and dried fruits on a global scale! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/stay-tuned-in-for-the-real-power-for-real-people-campaignCOVID-19 Update: October 1, 2020Clusters of new cases are surging in Spain, France and the UK, as well as in 23 states of the United States, and with the beginning of the fall season, further restrictions in order to contain the spread of the virus are expected. However, it seems that European countries are avoiding severe lockdowns, and only apply restrictions in the cities or regions where most of the cases appear. Governments are trying to find the right balance in order to protect public health and personal liberty as well as to enhance the economy. A multilateral approach seems to be the best tool to coordinate international measures in order to beat the pandemic. WHO World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom made some remarks at the United Nations General Assembly side event on infodemic management. Dr. Adhanom highlighted the fact that rumors, untruths and disinformation about COVID-19 can be as dangerous as the pandemic itself –some people might have not taken the precautions they should have, or have been self-medicating with toxic chemicals. However, it is possible to bring the virus under control “if people have accurate, timely information about the basic measures that they can take to protect themselves and others. (…) This is why it is so important we work together to provide the public and policymakers with accurate information and stop the spread of falsehoods that undermine this response. Today, WHO and our partners are calling on all countries to put in place national action plans to promote science-based health information and to combat misinformation. And we call on the media, technology companies, civil society, researchers, and people everywhere to keep the infodemic from spreading.”   On September 25, Dr. Adhanom stated that with the flu season approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, many countries struggle to find the right balance protecting public health, protecting personal liberty as well as protecting their economies. He added that the global economy is expected to contract by trillions of US dollars this year. The WHO urges countries to focus on four essential priorities: 1) prevent amplifying events, 2) protect vulnerable people, 3) educate, empower and enable communities to protect themselves and others, using every tool at their disposal, and 4) get the basics right: find, isolate, test and care for cases, and trace and quarantine their contacts. In addition to this, effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are also vital for ending the pandemic and accelerating the global recovery.   Regarding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, this tool aims to deliver 2 billion doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines, 245 million courses of treatment, and 500 million diagnostic tests to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021. United Nations The General Debate of the 75th Session of The United Nations General Assembly took place on September 22-29. The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that the pandemic is rising poverty worldwide, causing the decline of human development indicators, wiping away decades of progress on the most vulnerable, and boosting inequalities. He also recognized that the world is facing “simultaneously an epochal health crisis, the biggest economic calamity and job losses since the Great Depression, and dangerous new threats to human rights.” IMF During the 2020 International Conference on Sustainable Development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang, highlighted that global cooperation and multilateral coordination are the most effective strategies to fight the pandemic and its economic impact. In order to restore the dynamism of multilateralism, Mr. Zhang suggested three points: 1) multilateral organizations have to respond quickly to a fast-changing environment; 2) the need to acknowledge that multilateralism is bigger than the international organizations charged with its stewardship, and it is necessary to forge new partnerships, including private investors and civil society; and 3) increase awareness of the benefits of multilateralism.  OECD The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued its Economic Outlook of September 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Living with uncertainty. This report outlines that economic output collapsed in the first half of the year. However, it recovered swiftly following the de-escalation of COVID-19 containment measures worldwide, and the reopening of businesses. In order to recover economies successfully, restoring confidence will be crucial, and for this, it is necessary to learn to safely live with the virus. This global outlook is less pessimistic, but risks and uncertainty remain high.   On September 18, the OECD participated in the 21st World Knowledge Forum: COVID-19 and the New Economic Normal. OECD Secretary General, Angel Gurría, highlighted that the 6% contraction in global GDP that the OECD projects for the current year is the largest contraction in the 60 years of the OECD’s existence. In the case of a second wave of infections, the decline of global GDP is expected to be more than 7.5%. Mr. Gurría also noted that trillions of dollars have been directed towards supporting individuals, households and companies across the OECD. However, he is concerned about corporate defaults: “corporate defaults can be expected to rise above levels experienced in the Global Financial Crisis. It is therefore imperative that governments put risk capital to use for businesses in need of temporary support to contribute to employment and the wider economic recovery. For example, with appropriate program design, equity investments could reduce the probability of default without undue burden on governments. They can also foster investments that generate long-term value, such as in R&D and intangible assets.” Australia Australia is gradually relaxing internal border restrictions due to a decrease in COVID-19 infections. South Australia and Queensland are easing restrictions with the neighboring state, New South Wales, for the first time in months, representing a relief to its residents. From October 1, a relaxation of border restrictions is expected between some northern districts in New South Wales and Queensland. The new measures would allow residents in border communities to travel freely between the two states. However, Victoria residents are only able to travel to other areas if they are essential workers or live along a state border. The Victorian State Government is hopeful that falling infection rates may allow it to ease a strict lockdown in Melbourne. China Hong Kong temporarily banned flights from Kuala Lumpur and India until October 3, as some passengers were tested positive for COVID-19. Health regulations became stricter on September 15, and consequently, any airline carrying 5 or more passengers infected by COVID-19, or 2 consecutive flights with 3 or more diagnosed passengers, may be banned from flying to Hong Kong.  EU On September 25, the European Council approved €87.4 billion in financial support for Member States under the EU instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE). The support is provided as EU loans to mitigate unemployment risks during the COVID-19 crisis. It is expected to help Member States finance the severe increase in public expenditure incurred from the beginning of the pandemic as a result of the use of national short-time work schemes and similar measures, including for self-employed persons, and some health-related measures in response to the pandemic. SURE is one of the three safety nets, worth up to €540 billion, that were agreed by the Eurogroup on April 9, to protect workers, businesses and sovereigns.  France From September 19, bars and restaurants must close at 10 pm in Paris, Lyon and nine other cities. There is also a limit of 10 people at public gatherings and it is mandatory to wear face masks in public areas in the capital. These measures are expected to avoid full lockdowns across the country, as the country’s economy already shrank 8.9% in 2020. The French Government recently announced €100 billion as part of a recovery plan.  Germany On September 19, Germany recorded the highest daily infection rate since April. As a response, Germany has not brought in any new restrictions, but several cities have imposed their own rules after they crossed the critical infection incidence of more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Munich and Kloppenburg banned private gatherings of more than 6 people.   Germany declared Dublin in Ireland, Britany and Normandy in France, the Utrecht province of the Netherlands, the greater Lisbon Area, and almost all the Czech Republic as COVID-19 risk areas, and requires travelers from the aforementioned areas to take COVID-19 tests before entering in the country. Travelers from the US, Russia and most African countries are on the high-risk list since June.  Italy According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy, many restaurants were forced to close to the public, and offered only delivery. As a consequence, the online channel gained ground due to bookings and requesting online delivery services.   The Italian airport Rome’s Fiumicino was awarded the world’s first five-star anti-COVID award from Skytrax –an international airport industry ratings body. The airport was awarded due to “a combination of procedural efficiency checks, visual observation analysis and ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) sampling tests”. On September 1, the airport opened a COVID testing center, which is co-managed with the Italian Red Cross. Three other airports have been awarded three stars for their COVID response: Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport in Spain, Nice Côte d&#39;Azur Airport in France and London&#39;s Heathrow. Spain Madrid region ordered partial lockdown measures in the most COVID-19 hit areas. Therefore, there are movement restrictions in place within six districts. However, citizens are allowed to commute if their workplace is located in another region. In addition to this, the Regional Government of Madrid also restricted access to parks and public areas, banned gatherings of more than six people and ordered the closure of commercial establishments before 10 pm.  United Kingdom On September 22, the UK Government announced further national measures in order to address rising cases of COVID-19. Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centers or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10 pm and 5 am. These measures also include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10 pm, from September 24. Among other requirements, a wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centers, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 secure requirements and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.   Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings since September 23. In hospitality venues, customers must wear face coverings and the same applies to hospitality and retail staff since September 24. Face coverings and visors must be worn in close contact services since September 24. Netherlands According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) recently adjusted the economic growth outlook for the country. In 2020, the Dutch economy is forecast to contract by 5%. However, it is expected to grow by 3% next year. Regarding the foodservice sector, the turnover is expected to decline at unprecedented levels this year. The industry’s turnover fell by 46% during the second quarter of 2020, compared to the first quarter, when the turnover had already decreased by nearly 14%. Cafés recorded the largest turnover fall, followed by restaurants, caterers and fast food restaurants. Online ordering and home delivery, however, has benefitted and saw sales grow as much as 25% in some cases.  India Regarding the port situation in India, port operations are running normally in Mundra and Mangalore. According to local media reports, in order to respond to container congestion during peak hours, Chennai Port Authorities granted two terminal operators additional carrying time from 5 to 7 days, for one month. This additional time allotment is expected to give exporters more time to move containers and avoid peak hour rushes, which will facilitate more flow of export containers departing the port. In Cochin port, truck movements continue to be slow.   Regarding food retail, in Kolkata, vegetable prices at wholesale and retail markets have almost increased 50% compared to mid-August prices due to heavy rains in West Bengal, according to local media reports. In Goa, most staff have returned to their workplaces and stores are operating again under strict COVID-19 prevention measures. No shortages have been reported during the last two months. Prices started to stabilize by mid-September after a huge price increase of imported goods during the past few months. This increase can be attributed to higher freight and logistics costs, product handling expenses, and losses incurred during the lockdown. In Hyderabad, 80% of stores staff returned to work and most retail stores returned to normal. Online sales have increased by over 50%. South Korea South Korea eliminated COVID-19 risk from foreign travelers. However, there is a spike of new infections due to sporadic clusters of infections and untraceable cases. United States In the United States, 20 states are reporting a steady number of new cases, while 23 are seeing increases. Experts are warning of a coming surge of COVID-19 cases in the US caused by a relaxation of social measures and the increment of indoor life. Over the summer, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that fall and winter could be "one of the most difficult times that we experienced in American public health." On September 18, the US Government announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Producers can apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices from September 21 to December 11. CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities –Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities. Some of the commodities included are: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced up to an additional $1 billion in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. This program has already distributed more than 96 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-october-1-2020COVID-19 Update: September 16, 2020  Many governments are still applying travel restrictions and other strict prevention measures, as worldwide health systems are still struggling to cope with the pandemic.   In order to help people return to normality, the United Nations urged G20 countries to agree on a common criteria in the removal of travel restrictions, to invest on safe travel, to boost intergovernmental cooperation, to encourage coordination in preventive measures –specifically in testing and tracing– and the consideration of future vaccines as a global public good, in order to make them affordable and available everywhere, supporting global health, mobility and economic recovery. WHO In a recent media briefing, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom advocated in favour of public health as the foundation of social, economic and political stability. According to Dr. Adhanom, a robust public health system constitutes an excellent tool for preventing, detecting and responding to disease. “When the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready. Part of every country’s commitment to build back better must therefore be to invest in public health, as an investment in a healthier and safer future”, he added. In addition to this, Dr. Adhanom gave the example of several countries, including Italy, that reduced the transmission of COVID-19 thanks to hard decisions, together with the engagement of citizens and the sacrifice of health workers.   On September 8, the International Health Regulation Review Committee held its first meeting on the functioning of the International Health Regulations (IHR) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the opening remarks, Dr. Adhanom highlighted the need for global cooperation in order to confront a global threat, and the fact that the pandemic has been a test of global capacities for preparedness and response, as well as for the legal instrument that governs them, the IHR. The WHO expects that the Committee review the functioning of the IHR during the COVID-19 response, including IHR provisions related to the following areas: 1) the convening of the Emergency Committee and its working modalities, and in particular, the binary mechanism for declaring a public health emergency of international concern; 2) the international coordination and collaboration for response, including the role and functioning of national IHR focal points; 3) outbreak alert, verification and risk assessment, information sharing and communication; 4) additional health measures in relation to international travel; 5) implementation and reporting of IHR core capacities, including the possibility of establishing peer review processes for capacity assessments; and 6) examining progress made on the implementation of recommendations from previous IHR review committees.    On September 10, the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia held its 73rd session, a Ministerial Roundtable on COVID-19. Dr. Adhanom highlighted that regional solidarity is strong in South-East Asia, as its countries are confronting the pandemic in an organized manner. The WHO remarked the essential priorities that countries must focus in order to control COVID-19 and reopen their societies, economies and borders: 1) prevent amplifying events through a risk-based, local approach; 2) reduce deaths by protecting essential workers and the most vulnerable groups; 3) empower and educate individuals and communities to protect themselves and others by using physical distancing, hand hygiene, and masks –not in isolation but together; and 4) focus on the public health basics: find, isolate, test and care for cases, and trace and quarantine their contacts.   On September 10, Dr. Adhanom and Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, co-hosted the inaugural meeting of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Facilitation Council. The ACT-Accelerator is the global collaboration accelerating the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines. A total of US$35 billion is still needed for the ACT-Accelerator to realize its goals of producing 2 billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests. Over 170 countries are engaged in the new COVID-19 Vaccine Facility and ten candidate vaccines are under evaluation, nine of them in clinical trials, representing the largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio in the world. United Nations On September 3, the G20 Extraordinary Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held. The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres made the following remarks: “The pandemic has forced unprecedented lockdowns, travel suspensions and limited movement across borders. (…) Furthermore, the adoption of ad hoc measures could create a patchwork of unworkable travel requirements, creating significant obstacles to a global economic recovery.” Therefore, the UN urged the G20: 1) to agree on common objective criteria in the removal of travel restrictions, based on scientific evidence; 2) to invest on systems and practices supporting safe travel, in close coordination with the private sector; 3) to boost coordination in preventive measures, specifically in more systematic use of testing and tracing and other actions to avoid the spread of the disease, and control the potential impacts of increased mobility; 4) to ensure full respect for international human rights and refugee law; and 5) to consider future vaccines as a global public good, and made them affordable and available everywhere, supporting global health, mobility and economic recovery. IMF According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as economies look for paths to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, new evidence reaffirms that policies for more open and trade-integrated economies could significantly benefit domestic competition and ultimately may help lower costs for consumers in emerging and developing economies. The IMF has issued a working paper on the effect of international trade on corporate market power in emerging market economies and developing countries, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The paper also states that tariff reductions cause a significant decrease in markups (the difference between the selling price of a good or service and its cost) in the manufacturing sector as it typically faces strong competition from abroad, and overall, sectors with more import penetration have a stronger response to tariff reductions. Australia According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the value of the Australian consumer food service industry is A$59 billion. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the economy recorded 29 years of consecutive economic growth. The Reserve Bank of Australia forecasted a 8% growth fall during the second quarter of 2020. In March, the Australian Government announced the closure of all food and beverage service operators, except for delivery or takeaway services, as well as the prohibition of entering to the country to all non-Australian citizens and residents. As a consequence, these measures affected significantly the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional sector. Despite the fact that the demand for takeaway services has risen, the sector loss revenue because of the closure of restaurants and bars. However, rising unemployment rates may decline household discretionary purchases, such as takeaway food. In addition to this, IBISWorld has estimated a revenue loss of 25% for Australian restaurants this year.   The Government of Queensland applies border restrictions for agribusiness and food manufacturing industries, in order to limit people coming into Queensland from a COVID-19 hotspot. People who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days will only be able to enter if they are returning Queensland residents or under an exemption for essential activities. A class exemption started on August 22, for one month for farmers and agribusiness workers who need to move between Queensland and New South Wales to perform essential agribusiness services or farming activities. Chile Chile increased prevention measures due to a spike of new cases, including more health controls in Santiago during national holidays (September 17-19). Physical distancing and the use of face masks are mandatory in areas where social gatherings may occur. China On September 2, the Beijing Leading Group on Epidemic Control of COVID-19 held its 83rd meeting and the 40th meeting of the inter-agency mechanism for strict entry management.   Authorities, companies and individuals are required to continue implementing hygienic measures, report possible infections, and, if necessary, follow quarantine and treatment. China is committed to continue with prevention and control measures in autumn and winter, and to coordinate efforts both in containing COVID-19 and in promoting social and economic development.   During the meeting, the importance of resuming direct international flights to Beijing was highlighted. Consequently, the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced the gradual reopening of Beijing airport to direct international passenger flights from September 3, under strict control measures. Since March 23, all international passenger flights entering Beijing had been diverted to designated first points of entry, and only passengers who passed quarantine inspection could fly to Beijing on the original flight.   On September 2, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region opened all outdoor tourist sites. This area has controlled the spread of the disease and consequently restarted inter-provincial travel. Nonetheless, tourist sites, travel agencies and relevant enterprises are required to strictly follow prevention and control measures in order to re-open in a safe and orderly way.   As of September 15, China applies new COVID-19 testing rules for US travelers. Passengers traveling from the US, and those transiting in any country that the Chinese Government has listed as requiring the screening, must have negative COVID-19 results from a test done within three days of boarding at the last layover destination. EU On September 11, the European Council approved €6.2 billion budget increase for 2020, to address the impact of the pandemic, as well as the funding of the vaccine strategy. The revised budget increases payments for the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) by €1.09 billion in order to ensure the development and deployment of a vaccine. The European Commission will use this money as a down-payment for pre-ordering vaccine doses. The new budget also increases payments by €5.1 billion for the Corona Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the Corona Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+).    The European Commission has proposed more clarity and predictability of any measures restricting free movement in the EU. The Commission&#39;s proposal sets out four key areas where Member States should work closer together: 1) Common criteria and thresholds for Member States when deciding whether to introduce travel restrictions; 2) Mapping of common criteria using an agreed color code; 3) A common framework for measures applied to travelers from high-risk areas; 4) Clear and timely information to the public about any restrictions.   On September 8, during the Brussels Economic Forum, European Council president, Charles Michel, highlighted the fact that fiscal rules shall give Member States the capacity to act in hard times: “As we implement our recovery plan, every euro must be used thoughtfully and efficiently. Europe&#39;s recovery plan is not a three- or seven-year strategy. It&#39;s a thirty-year strategy. Our prosperity will be founded on democratic and human values. And for this to work, we need trust.”    The European Council agreed its position on temporary derogations in support of the rail sector, to mitigate the severe effects of the pandemic on the sector. The Council agreed on September 9 on a proposal to give Member States the possibility to help the sector by providing relief from certain infrastructure charges for rail companies, while ensuring a timely refund for infrastructure providers. Germany German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned about the increasing infection risk of the coming months, and called on people to continue adopting prevention measures. In addition to this, Germany promised an investment of €4 billion in public health centers, as well as the creation of new healthcare jobs. Italy In the beginning of September, COVID-19 cases spike in Italy. The country had dramatically reduced the number of cases with strict lockdown measures. However, during the reopening of businesses and tourist activities, there was a resurgence of new cases. The schools reopened on September 14, representing an immediate challenge.   Amid the spike of new cases, Norway added Italy and Slovenia to COVID-19 quarantine list, imposing a 10-day quarantine to all people arriving from these countries as of September 5. Norway quarantines travelers from countries with more than 20 confirmed new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In addition to this, Norwegians are advised against traveling to those destinations. Spain Spain recorded a record-high rise in COVID-19 cases during the second week of September, and registered its highest cumulative incidence since the start of the pandemic (238.94 cases per 100,000 inhabitants).   According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Spain has the highest incidence in Western Europe and almost double that of France, which is second on the list. As for schools reopening, the Director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts said that it was a “challenge for all,” and admitted that some of the 28,000 education centers in the country may have to close due to coronavirus outbreaks. United Kingdom The United Kingdom suffered a spike of COVID-19 cases in early September. For this reason, from September 14, social gatherings for more than six people are banned. However, there are exceptions of this rule, as it is not applicable to workplaces, schools or organized team sports, among others. The rule replaces the ban on participating in gatherings of more than 30 and the previous guidance on allowing two households to meet indoors. India On September 7, India took 2nd place in COVID-19 cases worldwide, surpassing Brazil, which is now the third worst-affected country in the world after the US. India has been reopening public spaces in order to help the economy recovery. The disease entered the vast rural areas of the country, where 70% of its population live, but healthcare infrastructure is under resourced.   Between April and June, when India was under strict lockdown measures, its GDP shrank by 24% compared to the same period last year. South Korea Recent clusters of infections in religious gatherings, offices and medical facilities in the Seoul metropolitan area concern the authorities in South Korea. According to Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, “It would be right to lift the restrictions, considering the sacrifices the people are making, but we’re as much worried if any hasty easing would lead to a re-spread of the virus and cause even greater pain for the public.” Turkey On September 8, the Turkish Interior Ministry issued a notice to the public regarding new COVID-19 restrictions/guidance: 1) Face masks must be worn in public (streets, gardens, workplaces, etc.) at all times in all 81 provinces of Turkey; 2) Standing passengers will not be allowed in urban public transportation vehicles where physical distance rules cannot be applied; and 3) Live music at restaurants and cafes after midnight is forbidden. United States COVID-19 new cases in the United States fell during the second week of September, and the number of deaths decreased for the fourth consecutive week. However, there is a resurgence of cases in certain states such as Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wisconsin, among others.   Several schools already have temporarily shut down again after COVID-19 outbreaks this school year. Others, including some universities, have managed to keep their cases low after testing every student returning to school.   The US Government is planning to end enhanced screening of international passengers for COVID-19, and lower requirements for travelers coming from pandemic hotspots.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-september-16-2020Latest Trade News and Agreements: SeptemberEU: Consultation on the Trade Policy Review The European Commission (EC) launched a major review of the EU’s trade policy.   This review aims to cover all relevant topics to the EU trade policy and includes a public consultation from the European Parliament, EU Member States, stakeholders and civil society. The objective is to build consensus around a fresh medium-term direction for EU trade policy, responding to a variety of new global challenges and taking into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.   The consultation is open until November 15, 2020, and its results are expected to be published by the end of the year.   EU: Consultation on the Trade Policy Review   EU: GSP Stakeholder Survey The European Commission opened a survey period on the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) addressed to stakeholders.   Participants are invited to share their point of view on the EU&#39;s GSP and provide information on which sectors benefit from GSP, which are the developing countries that benefit from GSP, the current engagement of companies, the challenges to meet the requirements to import under GSP, as well as different ways to encourage stakeholders to take full advantage of the GSP&#39;s benefits.   The current EU GSP runs from January 2014 until December 2023 and is subject to periodic review. This survey aims to collect information on the general awareness about the EU GSP among stakeholders, international organizations, economic operators in the EU, beneficiary countries and third countries, industry associations and public officials.   The survey is open until October 15, 2020.   GSP Trade Preferences: Stakeholder Survey https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreements-septemberOfficial Controls Update: SeptemberPeru: Cranberries from Mexico The National Agrarian Health Service of Peru (SENASA) notified the World Trade Organization of the Directorial Resolution establishing the mandatory phytosanitary requirements governing the importation into Peru of cranberry plants (Vaccinium spp.) originating in and coming from Mexico.   Following the completion of the relevant pest risk analysis, the proposal is being submitted for public consultation. The deadline for comments was September 2, 2020.   SENASA Public Consultation (in Spanish) https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-update-augustFood Safety Update: SeptemberGermany: Mineral Oil Hydrocarbons The representatives of the food control authorities of the federal states and the food sector association Food Federation Germany have made a recommendation on “benchmark levels” for contents of mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH).   These benchmark levels (non-legislative) for mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH), which were introduced on July 1, 2020, cover only the German market. For nuts and dried fruits, a benchmark level of 4 mg/kg for mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) is established. For mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH), the level is lower than the limit of qualification (LOQ).   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-safety-update-septemberPesticides Update: SeptemberAustralia: MRLS Update The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) published Amendment No. 193, varying Schedule 20 to include MRLs from Proposal M1017 – Maximum Residue Limits (2019).   As previously announced, the Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code is varied as follows: The MRL for Flazasulfuron in almonds at 0.01 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Clofentezine in Stone fruits [except cherries] at 0.1 ppm is omitted. The MRL for Acephate in peanuts at 0.2 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Clofentezine in plums (including prunes) at 0.1 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Fenazaquin in dried grapes (currants, raisins and sultanas) at 0.8 ppm and stone fruits at 2 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Halosulfuron-methyl in almonds at 0.05 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Phosmet in Stone fruits [except cherries] at 5 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Propiconazole in Stone fruits [except plum (including prunes)] at 4 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Sethoxydim in almonds at 0.2 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Chlorothalonil in peanuts is substituted for 0.3 ppm. The MRL for Fluopyram in peanuts is substituted for 0.2 ppm. Amendment No. 193   In addition, FSANZ issued the proposal to amend Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (August 11, 2020).   Among other changes, the table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows: The maximum residue limit (MRL) for clofentezine in almonds is substitute by 0.5 ppm. The deadline for comments is September 8, 2020.   The proposal can be found here.   Brazil: MRLs Update The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has notified the World Trade Organization of the draft resolutions regarding the active F36 - Flutriafol, P34 - Pyriproxyfem and B55 - Emamectin Benzoate of the Monograph List of Active Ingredients for Pesticides, Household Cleaning Products and Wood Preservers, published by Resolution RE n° 165 of 29 August 2003, on the Official Gazette (DOU Diário Oficial da União) of 2 September 2003. The MRL for flutriafol in groundnut culture is set at 0.1 ppm with a safety security period of 28 days. The MRL for pyriproxyfem in cashew culture is set at 5 ppm with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for emamectin benzoate in peanut cultures is 0.01 ppm with a safety security period of 7 days. For flutriafol, pyriproxyfem and emamectin benzoate the final date for comments is September 26, 2020.   F36 - Flutriafol   P34 - Pyriproxyfem   B55 - Emamectin Benzoate EFSA: MRLs Review The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Modification and setting of maximum residue levels for mefentrifluconazole in various crops. The data submitted were found to be sufficient to derive MRL proposals. Adequate analytical methods for enforcement are available to control the residues. A consumer risk assessment was performed, and the short- and long-term resulting from the intended uses is unlikely to present a risk to consumer health.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Mefentrifluconazole Apricots 0.01* 0.7 The submitted data are sufficient to derive an MRL proposal. Risk for consumers unlikely. Plums 0.01* 0.5 Grapes 0.01* 0.9  * Indicates lower limit of determination. EFSA Modification and setting of maximum residue levels for mefentrifluconazole in various crops. EFSA Journal 2020;18(7):6193   New Zealand: MRLs Update On August 6, 2020, the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand published the ‘Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds’.   This document specifies maximum residue levels (MRLs) for agricultural compounds in food and specifies agricultural compounds for which no maximum residue level applies in relation to specified food subject to specified conditions. It revokes and replaces the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds, issued on March 9, 2020 (see previous post).   This Food Notice came into force on August 28, 2020.   Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds (August 28, 2020)   USA: Pesticide Petitions The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received several initial filings of pesticide petitions requesting the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities.   As regards nuts and dried fruits, the Agency received a petition to establish a new tolerance for residues of the fungicide pyriofenone in or on raisins at 2.5 ppm.   The final date for comments is September 4, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 151, Wednesday, August 5, 2020 5, 2020. Pages 47330-47331   USA: Applications for New Active Ingredients The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received applications to register pesticide products containing active ingredients not included in any currently registered pesticide products.   The new active ingredient pyraziflumid has been proposed as fungicide for stone fruits (crop group 12-12) and tree nuts (crop group 14-12). The deadline for comments is September 28, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 166. Friday, August 28, 2020. Pages 53362-53363https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-update-septemberThe Impact of COVID-19 on the Global F&B Industry, ENG WebinarThe webinar was moderated by Mr. Jonathan Walsh, EMEA Application Microbiologist, Food Safety EMEA, 3M. The speakers, Ms. Natasa Matyasova, VP, Head of Quality Management, Nestle; Mr. John Carter, Area Europe Quality Director, Ferrero; and Mr. Gideon Ashworth, Head of Food Defense, Bart Ingredients, discussed and shared their personal experiences about different topics, such as contingency plans to ensure a secure supply chain, social distancing in food production, movement restrictions at some borders, supply chain risk mitigation assessment, and communication management during the crisis.   Luckily for the F&B industry, COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. The speakers highlighted the rapid response by international organizations such as the World Health Organization, as well as the different national authorities and inspection bodies in order to provide the aid and flexibility needed in the context of the pandemic. As the F&B sector is considered an essential industry worldwide, this made it possible to ensure food commodities to the consumers. However, in some cases, it was necessary to contact with local authorities to help local suppliers to get the license to operate. For example, packaging materials are not strictly a food commodity but extremely necessary for the F&B industry.   The panel agreed that it was not possible to have contingency plans prepared for a pandemic like this and the key for success is flexibility. The F&B industry has to react very fast to the changes and adapt to the new circumstances. The sector has had to impose new measures and it is important to invest in communication and educational programs to reach out to employees and create confidence in the workplace environment.   Due to the impossibility of carrying out physical inspections, trust in suppliers, documents, analysis… is more important than ever. However, under no circumstances food safety has to be compromised. The industry should reinforce its internal controls and learn how the use of new technologies (drones, cameras, online tools, apps) can help to guarantee a high standard of safety. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-the-global-f-b-industry-eng-webinarCOVID-19 Update: September 3, 2020  Governments strive to balance public health actions in order to contain the spread of the disease while ensuring people’s livelihoods as well as the mitigation of harder social and economic impacts. The United States and Brazil report nearly 40% of COVID-19 cases in the world, and India registered a record worst single-day spike worldwide. Germany announced the cancellation of one of the most popular Christmas markets amid the fear of new waves of the pandemic.   The development of vaccines against COVID-19 gives hope in the fight against the disease. However, possible vaccines are still being investigated and tested, and consequently, may not be globally available by the end of 2020. WHO In a recent media briefing, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted that a spirit of solidarity and partnership is essential to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Tedros also warned that “Much of this resurgence is occurring in clusters of cases related to gatherings of people, including at stadiums, nightclubs, places of worship and crowds. These types of gatherings can be amplifying events that can be the spark that creates a much larger fire”. However, every country and community is responsible to make its own decisions about how to host these kind of events in a safe way, based on their own level of risk.   WHO Member States have been informed about the establishment of an International Health Regulations (IHR) Review Committee in order to advise about possible changes to the IHR, with the aim to ensure the effectiveness of this legal tool. The Committee will be made up of independent experts, who will examine different aspects of the IHR and exchange information and share findings with the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and with the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. The first progress report of this committee is expected to be published in November. United Nations The United Nations (UN) launched a Policy Brief on COVID-19 and transforming the tourism sector, which has been devastated by the pandemic.   In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some $320 billion dollars in exports from tourism were lost, and overall, 120 million direct jobs in tourism are at risk. This policy report has identified five priority areas in order to aid the recovery of the sector: (1) mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the crisis, (2) build resilience across the entire tourism value chain, (3) maximize the use of technology in the tourism sector, (4) promote sustainability and green growth, and (5) foster partnerships to enable tourism to further support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the 2020 External Sector Report: Global Imbalances and the COVID-19 crisis. The report highlights the fact that the outlook for 2020 is highly uncertain, as the pandemic has caused a sharp decline in global trade, lower commodity prices and tougher external financing conditions. In the near term, policy efforts should continue to focus on providing relief and promoting economic recovery. In order to adjust to external shocks, such as the fall in commodity prices or tourism losses, countries with flexible exchange rates should allow them to adjust as needed.   The report also states that both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade should be avoided, especially on medical equipment and supplies, and recent restrictions on trade need to roll back. Over the medium term, economic and policy distortions that predated the crisis may persist or worsen, implying the need for reforms. Australia Stage 3 restrictions apply in Victoria from August 6. Stage 3 restrictions applicable in the whole State of Victoria include the limitation of movement, as people are only allowed to leave their home for four reasons: shopping for food or essential items, work and study, care and caregiving and daily exercise. Shops, markets and shopping centers are allowed to open with limited capacity, and applying strict social distancing and hygiene measures.   The Metropolitan area of Melbourne entered stage 4 restrictions from August 2. In Melbourne, it is mandatory to wear face masks whenever leaving the house, which is only allowed for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph. There is a curfew from 8 pm and 5 am. Restaurants and cafes are only allowed to trade as takeaway and delivery. No restaurant or bar sitting is allowed. General retail stores are only allowed to operate contactless pick-up, delivery and ‘click and collect’.  Canada A USDA GAIN Report, published on August 27, overviews the impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian agricultural sector. The report highlights the effects of the pandemic and mitigation measures on the foodservice sector. The national restaurant industry association estimates losses between $15 and $35 billion USD in 2020. Sales fell in March, as the closure of non-essential businesses, movement restrictions and measures to limit public interactions entered into force. Since May, restaurants are allowed to gradually reopen. At this moment, strict social distancing and hygienic measures are still applicable in the whole country. However, foodservice sales continue to recover, as in May, sales increased 47% compared to the previous month.   The report also highlights the impacts on the retail sector, which adapted quickly to the new consumer demand. E-commerce retail sales doubled between February and May.  Chile The retail food sector in Chile changed as a result of strict social distancing measures, as well as strict sanitary and hygiene protocols applied in the country, according to a USDA GAIN Report. As a result, the pandemic accelerated the trend towards online shopping, which increased by 60% in May, compared to the same month in 2019. This trend was followed by the development of e-commerce and online platforms. China The China Association of Science and Technology held its 22nd meeting on August 18. The highlights of the session are the following: (1) the trajectory of the pandemic is still hard to predict, as many features of the disease are not yet fully understood; (2) it is necessary to prevent the overlap of COVID-19 with the seasonal flu, especially during fall and winter, which is likely to make the disease even harder to identify; and (3) living with the COVID-19 is the new normality, which requires both routine containment measures and emergency preparedness, with a view to balancing economic and social life with COVID-19 response.   China’s National Health Commission (NHC) ordered local authorities to perform regular COVID-19 testing at wholesale markets and neighboring areas, in an effort to control the spread of the disease.   In late August, China relaxed some COVID-19 lockdown measures in Urumqi city, in Xinjiang. The city experienced a strict lockdown since mid-July, and has reported no new cases since mid-August.   Hong Kong expects 5 million people to take part in a massive voluntary COVID-19 testing program. The city has already performed mass testing in various high-risk groups, such as care workers, as well as in buildings where confirmed cases were reported. This massive testing plan is aimed to help to contain the third wave of the disease.   The pandemic mitigation measures have a strong impact in the city’s economy, as Hong Kong GDP is expected to drop from 6% to 8% this year. Hong Kong’s GDP has already shrank 9% in the second quarter, compared to the same period of the previous year.   Hong Kong announced the partial easing of social-distancing measures, after considering the desire to gradually resume social and economic activities. However, in case of a possible outbreak, social-distancing measures will be strengthened again. Restaurants are allowed to offer dine-in service until 9 pm, cinemas can open by half capacity, and face masks are not mandatory while exercising outdoors. Germany According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, COVID-19 triggered structural changes in the German restaurant sector. The report identified five different trends: (1) delivery services are expected to gain importance; (2) restaurants, especially chain restaurants, invest in digitalization strategies, such as apps for customers; (3) automation in the kitchen and a reduction of staff; (4) chains are expected to raise prices in order to raise funds addressed to investment; (5) small and independent businesses and restaurants may not endure these new structural changes in the sector. Greece Amid a rise of infections in August, Greece Prime Minister warned about new restrictive measures if the pandemic is not eased in the country. According to experts, the spike of new cases could be due either to an increase in tests or because more visitors have been tested during Greece’s peak tourism season. Tourism is the main driver of Greece’s economy, which is expected to contract by up to 10% this year. Therefore, it is necessary that both the visitors and citizens adhere to the prevention rules.   On August 11, Greece imposed more rigorous measures, amid a rise of new cases. The measures were applicable until August 23, and included the closure of bars and restaurants at midnight. The existing flight restrictions to Greece were extended to September 15. India According to a USDA GAIN Report issued on August 14, storms led to the collapse of three large cranes at the port of Mumbai, which may affect operations during the clearance of the damages, which are expected to last one month. According to local media reports, Cochin Port increased 6% of cargo volume during July, compared to the same month last year. This increase is due to greater demand for produce and medical equipment from the Middle East, as Cochin has a direct shipping line to Dubai. Exporters are increasingly opting for sea transport, as air freight rates have nearly doubled.   Another USDA GAIN Report issued on August 25 indicates that Mumbai port container movement increased by 19% in July, compared to the previous month, which indicates a strong recovery, especially in exports. Kandla port container traffic increased by 9%, compared to the same period in the previous year. In Chennai, container traffic improved in July and August, and it is expected that the port will be able to handle normal levels of traffic within the next four months. However, Cochin port reports slow truck movements. The most recent weekly port situation indicates that truck movement in Kolkata and Cochin continues to be slow. However, port operations are normal in Mundra.   The Weekly Food Retail Update USDA GAIN Report of August 24, indicates that after two and a half months, the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) in Navi Mumbai lifted all restrictions on the entry of vegetable trucks. Traders expect the increase in arrivals will lead to lower vegetable prices. Italy The European Commission (EC) approved €2 billion Italian guarantee scheme to support trade credit insurance market in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. Trade credit insurance protects companies supplying goods and services against the risk of nonpayment by their clients. Given the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the risk of insurers not being willing to issue this insurance has become higher. Executive Vice-President Ms. Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said “This €2 billion Italian scheme will contribute to ensuring that trade credit insurance remains available to all companies so that they can secure their commercial exchanges (…) We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place in a coordinated and effective manner, in line with EU rules”.   It is estimated that Italy lost nearly 70% of foreign tourists in August, which equals to almost €2 billion in lost income.   In order to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, Italy toughened controls on travelers from Spain, from August 13. However, there are no restrictions to enter to Italy if travelers come from all EU countries (excluding Croatia, Greece, Malta, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria), all Schengen countries, the UK and, Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City and San Marino. Travelers from Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain are required to take a PCR test. A 14 day quarantine is required for travelers from the following countries: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Rwanda, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. Travelers from countries not listed above, are not allowed to enter to Italy. Netherlands The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis issued its latest world trade monitor, which highlights that world trade volume rebounded in June with a 7.6% growth compared to May. However, countries such as Japan experienced a 2.6% fall in imports, China and countries in the Easter-Europe suffered a fall in exports, and both imports and exports fell in Africa and the Middle East. New Zealand On August 11, the Government of New Zealand confined the most important metropolis in the country after the detection of new infections. This measure affected more than 1.7 million people. With this confinement, in the beginning of only three days, but extended until August 30, the Government aimed to prevent the appearance of a possible outbreak. Businesses were able to trade without physical contact with customers, for example through phone or online orders, delivery and pick-up, and citizens were asked to work from home, if possible. In addition to this, it is mandatory to wear face masks on public transport in the whole country.   New Zealand was one of the countries which had been less affected by the pandemic, and just the second week of August the country celebrated the milestone of exceeding 100 days without any case of the virus among its population.  Romania A recent USDA GAIN Report highlights the transformation of the Romanian retail and foodservice sectors. Despite restaurants being allowed to open since July 15, the Government extended the state of alert by 30 days. Only outdoor sitting was allowed until mid-August. Although the Government of Romania seeks to support these sectors, many small and medium-sized companies are at risk of going out of business. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in February, Romanian consumers have increased online shopping instead of shopping in traditional markets and modern retail outlets. Singapore Singapore relaxed COVID-19 related travel restrictions for travelers from ‘low risk’ territories such as mainland China, Macau, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia (excluding the state of Victoria) are subject to a seven-day-stay home, instead of the 14-days requirement for travelers from all other regions. South Africa On August 18, South Africa applied level 2 lockdown measures. This level continues to apply physical distancing and other mitigation measures. There is a curfew from 10 pm until 4 am daily, and face masks are mandatory in public places. There are also limitations of the number of people in public places such as restaurants, fitness centers or museums, while night clubs are closed. Borders remain closed, except for ports of entry and other exceptions.   During the last weeks the number of new infections has decreased. South Korea The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report titled Economic Survey of Korea, which states that South Korea suffered limited economic damage, as the country applied measures to contain the virus and to limit its impact to households and businesses. Thanks to these responses, South Korea is experiencing the shallowest recession among the OECD countries. However, the report recommends continuing economic support measures until a full recovery, while ensuring fiscal plans in order to preserve fiscal sustainability in the long term.   Several COVID-19 new infections in Seoul led to the closure of schools and kindergartens, which resumed online classes. Since May 20, when initial restrictions were eased and South Korea resumed in-person lessons, more than 300 students have been infected. Spain Spain will receive close to €140 billion over the next six years from the recovery fund approved by the European Union, being the second biggest recipient of aid after Italy. The EU fund involves €390 billion in grants and €360 billion in low-interest loans. The reopening of schools is planned in the coming weeks, amid fears of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and growing concerns about the conditions of the reopening. The Spanish Health Minister announced the closure of nightclubs, reduced opening hours for bars and restaurants and banned smoking in public spaces if a two-meter distance cannot be observed, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to this, Catalonia banned social gatherings of more than 10 people, in order to curb down the spread of new cases. The Regional Government in Murcia also announced that social gatherings would be limited to a maximum of six people if they do not live together. Turkey Turkey registered a surge of new COVID-19 cases, as the Government imposed stronger measures, such as the banning of certain events and celebrations in order to prevent the spread of the disease. In addition to this, public institutions may implement flexible working methods, such as shifts or working out of the office. United Kingdom International travelers entering to the UK are subject to a 14-day quarantine, applying to UK residents and visitors to the UK, traveling by train, ferry, coach, air, or any other mean of transport. However, there is a list of countries and territories that have been assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people traveling abroad. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice is based on risks to British nationals, including in-country public health assessments. Some of the last added countries are Austria, Croatia, France and Laos, among others.  United States The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) application deadline has been extended from August 28 to September 11. The CFAP is intended to provide direct relief to producers of agricultural commodities who faced a 5% or greater price decline, or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and faced additional significant marketing costs. Almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are included. The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers.   On August 25, the US Government announced an additional $1 billion for the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) authorization. The additional funding allows the program to continue critical support to farmers, distributors and American families in need. The Farmers to Families Food Box program has provided over 75 million boxes until late August to families in need across the country. Entities that applied under the previous solicitation, including current vendors, must resubmit a proposal to participate in the third round. There have already been two rounds of purchasing and distribution. The second round began on July 1, and finished on August 31.   The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for schools, as children across the country return to the classroom. The new guidelines address how schools can work with public health officials in case of COVID-19 infection. Rather than shut down the whole school for a long period of time, the guidelines indicate an initial short-term class suspension and cancellation of events and after-school activities.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-september-3-2020Webinar on Mycotoxins by FRUCOMThe session revolved around the recently published European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Opinions on ochratoxin A (OTA) and aflatoxins (AF) and the challenges that a representative sampling entails.   Regarding OTA, EFSA Scientific Officer Dr. Hans Steinkellner explained the exposure re-assessment for which a total of 71,769 analytical results (75% left censored) were used coming from 29 EU Member States (more than 50% from Germany and the Netherlands). They found that the occurrence levels are similar to those of 2006 and concluded that the most important contributors were ‘Preserved meat’, ‘Cheese’, and ‘Grains and grain-based products’. Dried and fresh fruit, such as grapes, figs and dates, as well as fruit juices and nectars were also contributing to the exposure. EFSA recommended more studies elucidating the sequence of critical events at the carcinogenic target site in the kidney and more studies on toxicokinetics of OTA. In addition, more data on occurrence and toxicity are needed.    In the case of AF, after 209,802 analyses from 69,199 samples, the highest mean concentrations were found in ‘Legumes, nuts and oilseeds’ (particularly in pistachios, peanuts and other seeds), contributing up to 29% of the dietary exposure to aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in adults. The Panel considered that the impact of the uncertainties is moderate and that the assessment is likely to be conservative. EFSA recommended more studies on genotoxic potential and dietary exposure, as well as more data on occurrence.   The presentations were followed by a discussion on the uncertainty of the assessments, the difficulty of extrapolating toxicokinetic data from animals to humans, and the lack of evidence to support either direct or indirect DNA damage in OTA carcinogenesis, among other challenges.   Lastly, Dr. Thomas Whitaker, Professor Emeritus, Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department of North Carolina State University, gave a presentation about how to interpret mycotoxin sample test results and reduce the risk of misclassifying lots. Dr. Whitaker emphasized the high variability associated to replicated samples due to the heterogeneous distribution of aflatoxin concentration. The variability may lead to a misclassification of lots: a ‘good’ lot can be rejected (seller’s risk) or a ‘bad’ lot can be accepted (buyer’s risk). He concluded that there is always a risk present at some level, even when the protocols are used correctly. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/webinar-on-mycotoxins-by-frucomPesticides Update: AugustAustralia and New Zealand: MRLs Update Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) issued the Variations to Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (July 7, 2020).  The table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows:   The maximum residue limits (MRLs) for uniconazole-p in walnuts at T*0.01 ppm is inserted.   * indicates that the maximum residue limit is set at the limit of determination. ‘T’ indicates that the maximum residue limit is a temporary maximum residue limit.   Deadline for comments is August 11, 2020.   The amendment can be found here (pp. 19-23).   Brazil: MRLs Update   The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has notified the World Trade Organization of the draft resolutions regarding the active ingredients E32 - Espinetoram (Spinetoram), P34 - Piriproxifem (pyriproxyfen), F36 - Flutriafol, D41 - Diafentiurom (diafenthiuron), D55 - Dinotefuran, C70 - Clorantraniliprole (Chlorantraniliprole) of the Monograph List of Active Ingredients for Pesticides, Household Cleaning Products and Wood Preservers, published by Resolution RE n° 165 of 29 August 2003, on the Official Gazette (DOU Diário Oficial da União) of 2 September 2003.   The MRL for espinetoram in macadamia nut culture is set at 0.07 ppm with a safety security period of 3 days. The MRL for piriproxifem in groundnut culture is set at 0.01 ppm with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for flutriafol in groundnut culture is set at 0.1 ppm (modality of foliar use) with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for diafentiurom in groundnut culture is set at 0.3 ppm with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for dinotefuran in groundnut culture is set at 0.09 ppm with a safety security period of 14 days. The MRL for clorantraniliprole in groundnut culture is set at 0.05 ppm (modality of foliar use) with a safety security period of 7 days. In addition, the MRL is increased from 0.01 to 0.05 ppm in groundnut culture in the modality of soil use.   For espinetoram, piriproxifem, flutriafol, diafentiurom, dinotefuran, and clorantraniliprole the final date for comments is August 29, 2020.   E32 - Espinetoram P34 - Piriproxifem F36 - Flutriafol D41 - Diafentiurom D55 - Dinotefuran C70 - Clorantraniliprole   Canada: MRLs Update   Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has proposed new maximum residue limits (PMRL) for inpyrfluxam, glufosinate-ammonium. The PMRL for inpyrfluxam in peanuts is set at 0.01 ppm. The final date for comments is September 8, 2020.   The PMRL for glufosinate-ammonium in Tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is increased from 0.1 to 0.5 ppm; and in Stone fruits (crop group 12-09) from 0.2 to 0.3 ppm. The final date for comments is September 28, 2020.   Consultation on Inpyrfluxam, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2020-23 Consultation on Glufosinate-Ammonium, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2020-07   China: MRLs Update   The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People&#39;s Republic of China (P.R.C.) notified the World Trade Organization of the National Food Safety Standard of the P.R.C.: Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides in Foods. This standard establishes 589 maximum residue limits (MRLs) for the residues of 67 pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, in or on foods. The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service has published a GAIN report with an unofficial translation of the draft MRLs. Regarding nuts and dried fruits, the following MRLs were listed:   Chlorantraniliprole: plum at 0.3* ppm. Chlorpyrifos: apricot at 3 ppm. Pyraclostrobin: dried figs at 30 ppm and apricot at 3 ppm. Spirotetramat: plum at 5* ppm.   *The MRL is the temporary limit. The final date for comments is September 13, 2020. There is no proposed date of entry into force. For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   EFSA: MRLs Review   The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Reasoned Opinion on the review of the existing maximum residue levels (MRLs) for amisulbrom and etofenprox. To assess the occurrence of amisulbrom residues, EFSA considered the conclusions derived in the framework of Commission Regulation (EU) No 188/2011, as well as the authorizations reported by Member States (including the supporting residues data). Based on the assessment of the available data, MRL proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out.   To modify the existing MRL for the active substance etofenprox in plums, the data submitted were found to be sufficient to derive a proposal. EFSA concluded that the short‐term and long‐term intake of residues resulting from the existing and intended uses of etofenprox, according to the reported agricultural practices, is unlikely to present a risk to the consumer.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Amisulbrom grapes 0.5 0.4 Recommended Etofenprox plums 0.01* 0.2 The submitted data are sufficient. Risk for consumers unlikely.  * Indicates lower limit of determination. EFSA Review of the existing maximum residue levels for amisulbrom according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(7):6170   EFSA Modification of the existing maximum residue level foretofenprox in plums. EFSA Journal 2020;18(7):6192   EFSA: Import Tolerances   The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the Reasoned Opinions on setting import tolerances for abamectin.   After the request of setting import tolerances for the active substance abamectin in various commodities imported from the US, EFSA concluded that the short-term and long-term intake of residues resulting from the use of abamectin, according to the reported agricultural practices, is unlikely to present a risk to the consumer.   EFSA proposes to amend the existing MRL in tree nuts as follows:   Commodity Existing EU MRL (ppm) Proposed EU MRL (ppm) Comments Tree nuts 0.01* 0.01* The submitted data are sufficient to derive an import tolerance at the LOQ of 0.01 mg/kg for the whole group of tree nuts. US tolerance: 0.01 mg/kg. Risk for consumers unlikely.   * Indicates lower limit of determination. EFSA Setting of import tolerances for abamectin in various crops. EFSA Journal 2020;18(7):6173   EFSA: Pesticides and Bees   On July 28, 2020, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a Review of the evidence on bee background mortality, as part of its ongoing review of the guidance for assessing risks to bees from pesticides.   The report, which covers the three bee groups (honey, bumble and solitary bees), aims to strengthen existing knowledge by adopting a more systematic approach, and widen the scope of the analysis beyond mortality of forager bees. This document is based on the largest systematic collection of evidence on mortality rates ever carried out.   EFSA Review of the evidence on bee background mortality. EFSA Supporting publication 2020:EN-1880   EU: MRLs Update   On July 23, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1085 of 23 July 2020 amending Annexes II and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl in or on certain products.   On July 30, the Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1085 was amended by a Corrigendum, where the annex with the new MRLs was included and the application date was corrected.   The Regulation lowers all the MRL for chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl to 0.01* ppm. It shall apply from November 13, 2020.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1085 of 23 July 2020  Corrigendum to Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/1085 of 23 July 2020   EU: MRLs Update, Draft Commission Regulations   The European Commission notified the World Trade Organization of several draft regulations amending Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for substances in or on certain products. Draft Commission Regulation (EU) amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for carbon tetrachloride, chlorothalonil, chlorpropham, dimethoate, ethoprophos, fenamidone, methiocarb, omethoate, propiconazole and pymetrozine in or on certain products.    The deadline for comments is September 13, 2020. The proposed date of adoption is January 2021. It is expected to be published in February 2021.   The MRL for chlorothalonil is lowered from 1 to 0.01* ppm in apricots; from 3 to 0.01 ppm in grapes; from 5 to 0.01* in cranberries; and from 0.1 to 0.01* ppm in peanuts. The MRL for ethoprophos is lowered from 0.02* to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts.   Draft Commission Regulation amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for benalaxyl, benalaxyl-M, dichlobenil, fluopicolide, proquinazid and pyridalyl in or on certain products.     The deadline for comments is September 13, 2020. The proposed date of adoption is February 2021. It is expected to be published in April 2021.   The MRL for proquinazid is lowered from 0.02* to 0.01* ppm in apricots, plums, cranberries, dates and figs. The MRL for pyrdalyl in peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for benalaxyl is lowered from 0.05* to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts; and is increased from 0.3 to 0.7 ppm in grapes. The MRL for dichlobenil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm.   Draft Commission Regulation amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for fluxapyroxad, hymexazol, metamitron, penflufen and spirotetramat in or on certain products.     The deadline for comments is September 13, 2020. The proposed date of adoption is February 2021. It is expected to be published in April 2021.   The MRL for fluxapyroxad is lowered from 1 to 0.15 ppm in apricots. The MRL for hymexazol is lowered from 0.05* to 0.02* ppm in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs. The MRL for metamitron is lowered from 0.1* to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts. The MRL for penflufen in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.1* ppm. The MRL for spirotetramat is increased from 0.7 to 1.5 ppm in cranberries; and lowered from 0.1* to 0.02* ppm in dates, figs and peanuts.   Draft Commission Regulation amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for acequinocyl, cycloxydim, diclofop, fluopyram, ipconazole and terbuthylazine in or on certain products.     The deadline for comments is September 7, 2020. The proposed date of adoption is September 2020. It is expected to be published in October 2020.   The MRL for acequinocyl is lowered from 0.02 to 0.01* ppm in almonds; and is increased from 0.02 to 0.03 ppm in plums; and from 0.3 to 0.8 ppm in grapes. The MRL for cycloxydim is increased from 0.05* to 0.09* ppm in tree nuts, cranberries, dates, and figs; and is lowered from 0.2 to 0.09* ppm in apricots and peanuts; and from 0.5 to 0.4 ppm in grapes. The MRL for diclofop is lowered from 0.05* to 0.02* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts.  The MRL for fluopyram is lowered from 0.05 to 0.03 ppm in tree nuts, and from 0.2 to 0.02 ppm in peanuts; and is increased from 0.5 to 0.6 ppm in plums; from 1.5 to 2 ppm in grapes; and from 3 to 4 ppm in cranberries. The MRL for terbuthylazine is lowered from 0.05* to 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates and figs; and from 0.1 to 0.01* ppm in grapes and peanuts.   * Indicates lower limit of determination.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   EU: Pesticides, Standing Committee   The Report of the Standing Committee of the Section ‘Phytopharmaceuticals’, held on June 15-16, 2020, has been published.   Some of the discussions were the following: Fosetyl-Al. The European Commission presented the mandate to EFSA on the joint review of MRLs for fosetyl and phosphonates, which includes references to both the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for phosphonic acid and the new, lower ADI derived in the procedure for the renewal of approval of fosetyl.   The following draft regulations had favorable opinion: Draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and IV to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for 1,4-diaminobutane, 1-methylcyclopropene, ammonium acetate, bifenazate, blood meal, chlorantraniliprole, chlormequat, cyprodinil, fluxapyroxad, fosetyl, , limestone, mandipropamid, pepper, pyridaben, seaweed extracts, spirotetramat and trimethylamine hydrochloride in or on certain products (here). The MRL for pyridaben in tree nuts is set at 0.05 ppm. Draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for azinphos-methyl, bentazone, dimethomorph, fludioxonil, flufenoxuron, oxadiazon, phosalone, pyraclostrobin, repellants: tall oil and teflubenzuron in or on certain products (SPS) (here). The MRL for azinphos-methyl in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pyraclostrobin in grapes is set at 0.3 ppm. The MRL for oxadiazon in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Draft Commission Regulation (EU) No …/…amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the Committee as regards maximum residue levels for bupirimate, carfentrazone-ethyl, ethirimol and pyriofenone in or on certain products (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for bupirimate in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm; and in grapes and cranberries at 1.5 ppm. The MRL for ethirimol in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm; in apricots at 0.04 ppm; in grapes at 0.4 ppm; and in cranberries at 2 ppm. The MRL for pyriofenone in tree nuts, apricots, plums, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for carfentrazone-ethyl in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.05* ppm; and in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.02* ppm.   The following draft regulations were presented for discussion: Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for metam, dazomet, hexythiazox, clethodim and sethoxydim (Art. 12) (here). The MRL for clethodim in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metam in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for hexythiazox in tree nuts is set at 0.05 ppm; in apricots and plums at 0.7 ppm; and in cranberries, figs and peanuts at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for sethoxydim in tree nuts and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm; and in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs at 0.01* ppm. Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for acequinocyl, cycloxydim, diclofop, fluopyram, ipconazole and terbuthylazine in or on certain products (here). Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for fluxapyroxad, hymexazol, metamitron, penflufen and spirotetramat (here). The MRL for fluxapyroxad in apricots is set at 0.15 ppm. The MRL for hymexazol in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.02* ppm. The MRL for metamitron in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for penflufen in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for spirotetramat in cranberries is set at 1.5 ppm; and in dates, figs and peanuts at 0.02* ppm. Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for benalaxyl, benalaxyl-M, dichlobenil, fluopicolide, proquinazid, and pyrdalyl (here). The MRL for proquinazid in apricots, plums, cranberries, dates and figs is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for pyrdalyl in peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for benalaxyl in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts at 0.01* ppm; and in grapes at 0.7 ppm. The MRL for dichlobenil in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for ametoctradin, bixafen, fenazaquin, spinetoram, tefluthrin and thiencarbazone-methyl in or on certain products (here). The MRL for fenazaquin in apricots and plums is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for spinetoram in tree nuts, plums, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.02* ppm; in apricots at 0.2 ppm; and in grapes and cranberries at 0.4 ppm. The MRL for tefluthrin in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. The MRL for thiencarbazone-methyl in tree nuts, apricots, prunes, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is set at 0.01* ppm. Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for carbon tetrachloride, chlorothalonil, chlorpropham, dimethoate, ethoprophos, fenamidone, methiocarb, omethoate, propiconazole and pymetrozine in or on certain products. Draft Commission Regulation as regards maximum residue levels for chlordecone in or on certain products.   * Indicates lower limit of determination.   Summary report   USA: MRLs Update   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established tolerances for residues of oxathiapiprolin and hexythiazoxin or on multiple commodities.   Among others, the tolerance of oxathiapiprolin in cranberry is set at 0.4 ppm and in Nut, tree, group 14-12 at 0.01 ppm. This regulation is effective since July 6, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before September 4, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 129. Monday, July 6, 2020. Pages 40118-40122   Among others, the tolerance of hexythiazoxin in Date, dried is set at 3 ppm. This regulation is effective since July 20, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before September 18, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 139. Monday, July 20, 2020. Pages 43697-43699 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/pesticides-updateFood Safety Update: AugustEU: Hygiene of Foodstuffs   The European Commission, Health and Food Safety Directorate General notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Commission Regulation amending the Annexes to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs as regards food allergen management, redistribution of food and food safety culture.   The objective of the revision is to adapt the Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs to new trends and priorities related to food safety that emerged at EU and global level.   The Amendment introduces requirements to prevent or limit the presence of substances causing allergies or intolerances in equipment, conveyances and/or containers used for the harvesting, transport or storage of foodstuffs. It also sets certain requirements in order to promote and facilitate redistribution of food, while guaranteeing its safety for consumers. As food donations present several new food challenges at retail level, additional general hygiene requirements are needed. Finally, the document also includes general requirements on ‘food safety culture’, taking into account the Codex’s revision on General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1-1969).   The final date for comments is September 6, 2020.   Draft Document    USA: Smarter Food Safety   On July 13, 2020, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint.   FDA is taking a new approach to food safety, leveraging technology and other tools to create a safer and more digital, traceable food system. The ultimate goal is to bend the curve of foodborne illness in the US by reducing the number of illnesses.   The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint document represents achievable goals to enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, address new business models, reduce contamination of food, and foster the development of stronger food safety cultures. It outlines a partnership between government, industry and public health advocates. It is centered around four core elements:   Tech-enabled Traceability Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response New Business Models and Retail Modernization Food Safety Culture   More Information   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/food-saftey-updateOfficial Controls Update: AugustAustralia: Import Certificate Requirements   The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of Australia notified the World Trade Organization of the extension of the temporary changes to import certificate requirements for a range of imported plant-based, animal, biological and animal-based goods until October 1, 2020.   Due to the impact of the COVID-19 on the movement of airfreight and courier mail in multiple countries, some National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) have advised they are unable to meet Australia’s requirements to provide original paper-based phytosanitary certificates (PCs) with imports of a range of plant-based commodities. Therefore, inspection officers will accept the electronic copy of the PC as lodged by brokers through the standard lodgement process.   More information   China, Taiwan: Phytosanitary Certificates   The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu notified the World Trade Organization of the extension of the Implementation Period of the Temporary Alternative Arrangements of the Presentation of Original Veterinary and Phytosanitary Certificates in the Condition of COVID-19 Pandemic.   As previously notified, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu implemented alternative arrangements to the presentation of original veterinary or phytosanitary certificates until June 30. In consideration of the global COVID-19 situation, the implementation period for the abovementioned measure was extended until August 31, 2020.   More information   Peru: Walnuts from Argentina, Phytosanitary Requirements   The National Agrarian Health Service of Peru (SENASA) notified the World Trade Organization of the Directorial Resolution establishing the mandatory phytosanitary requirements governing the importation into Peru of in-shell walnut and walnut kernel (Juglans regia) originating in and coming from Argentina.   Following the completion of the relevant pest risk analysis, the mandatory phytosanitary requirements are being submitted for public consultation. The deadline for comments is September 19, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   Peru: Almonds from Chile   The National Agrarian Health Service of Peru (SENASA) notified the World Trade Organization of the Directorial Resolution establishing the mandatory phytosanitary requirements governing the importation into Peru of almonds grafted on a rootstock (Prunus dulcis, Prunus persica x Prunus davidiana) originating in and coming from Chile.   Following the completion of the relevant pest risk analysis, the mandatory phytosanitary requirements are being submitted for public consultation. The deadline for comments is September 19, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org.   South Africa: Electronic Certificates   The National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa (NPPOZA) has notified the World Trade Organization of the use of normal A4 printing paper while issuing phytosanitary certificates. Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPPOZA will be temporarily issuing phytosanitary certificates, generated from the eCertification system, printed on normal A4 paper and with the following features: QR code 2X barcodes Coat of arms in color Therefore, South Africa will have two types of certificate paper in the international trade now: the original paper with security features, and the normal A4 paper with QR and bar codes (until further notice).   This type of certificate entered into force on July 13, 2020.   WTO Notification   Ukraine: Organic Production   The Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine notified the World Trade Organization of the Draft Resolution on Approval of the Procedure for Certification of Organic Production and/or Circulation of Organic Products.   The Draft determines the requirements for certification of organic production and/or circulation of organic products, the grounds and procedure for issuing the certificate, its duplicate and form. The aim is to protect the rights and interests of economic entities and consumers.   The final date for comments is September 1, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/official-controls-updateLatest Trade News and Agreements: AugustEU-Vietnam: Free Trade Agreement The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) enters into force on August 1, 2020.   This FTA will eliminate nearly all customs duties on goods traded between the two parties in a progressive way. The Agreement also contains specific provisions to remove technical obstacles to trade.   It was signed on June 30, 2019, and on March 30, 2020, the EU adopted a decision on its conclusion (see previous post).   Notice concerning the date of entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam USA-Mexico-Canada: Free Trade Agreement The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force on July 1, 2020, replacing the decades-old NAFTA.   The USMCA is expected to enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly, and to expand exports of agricultural products. Some of the key achievements are:   Tariffs for most agricultural products will remain at zero. Setting unprecedented standards for agricultural biotechnology. Significant commitments to reduce trade distorting policies, improve transparency and ensure non-discriminatory treatment for agricultural product standards. Enhanced rules for science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Press release WCO: Amendments to HS 2022 The World Customs Organization (WCO) published the amendments to the Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature accepted during the HS Convention.   Among the 351 sets of amendments, the following HS codes have been set for pine nuts:   0802.91 - Pine nuts, in shell 0802.92 - Pine nuts, shelled   These accepted amendments shall enter into force for all Contracting Parties on January 1, 2022.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/latest-trade-news-and-agreementsCOVID-19 Update: August 4, 2020The World Health Organization states that the outbreak still constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. Undoubtedly, the risk of infection remains present. Countries that had eased restrictions because got coronavirus under control are tightening the measures as a result of increases in COVID-19 cases. And others less affected during the first months are now seeing escalating numbers.     Medical researchers around the world are working hard to find a vaccine as soon as possible; it looks like the best solution to allow lockdowns to be lifted more safely, and social distancing to be relaxed. WHO According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 150 countries joined the Gavi’s COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. Seventy-five countries, which would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets, partner with up to 90 lower-income countries that could be supported through voluntary donations to Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).   On July 22, the COVID-19 Law Lab initiative was launched with the aim of gathering and sharing legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. This is a joint project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.   As many countries are reopening or have plans to reopen international travel, the WHO has published a document outlining key considerations for national health authorities when considering or implementing the gradual return to international travel operations. The gradual lifting of travel restrictions should be based on a thorough risk assessment, taking into account country context, the local epidemiology and transmission patterns, the national health and social measures to control the outbreak, and the capacities of health systems in both departure and destination countries, including at points of entry.   The Emergency Committee on COVID-19 held its fourth meeting on 31 July. The Committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts.” Several recommendations were made to both WHO and State Parties. WHO should continue to communicate lessons learned, coordinate global and regional multilateral organizations, partners and networks, and support State Parties and partners in conducting active and community-based COVID-19 surveillance, among others. To State Parties, some of the recommendations were enhancing capacity for public health surveillance, sharing timely information and data, and maintaining and preparing essential health services to cope with seasonal influenza, other concurrent disease outbreaks, and natural disasters. FAO On July 21, the FAO launched the Hand-in-Hand geospatial platform to help build stronger food and agriculture sectors post COVID-19. The platform has a large and rich set of data on food, agriculture, socioeconomics, and natural resources to help strengthen evidence-based decision-making in the food and agriculture sectors. "The Geospatial Platform serves as a digital public good to create interactive data maps, analyze trends and identify real-time gaps and opportunities," said FAO Director-General, Mr. QU Dongyu. United Nations The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) launched the volume “Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities”, reflecting and furthering the discussions UN High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs members have had on a wide range of development trends and issues of critical importance to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recovery from COVID-19. The compilation provides outside-the-box thinking and new solutions to some of this era’s most pressing tests. Improving international tax cooperation, more equitable access to digital technological advances, and sustainable natural resource management are some of the issues included. FMI After the virtual meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held on July 18, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stated that “due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economy faces a deep recession this year, with partial and uneven recovery expected in 2021.” She emphasized that supportive fiscal and monetary policies are essential until a safe and durable exit from the crisis can be assured. Australia Entering on July 22, the Government of New South Wales (NSW) established a strict new border zone, tightened permit conditions and stronger enforcement powers to further restrict entry to NSW from Victoria, as a result of record COVID-19 cases. All NSW residents are strongly urged not to travel to Victoria. In addition, from July 24, new rules were put in place for NSW business. Pubs, restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs must limit the group bookings to 10 people, have COVID-Safe plans and registration as a COVID-Safe business, and provide digital records of customer visits within 24 hours.   On August 2, Victoria declared ‘state of disaster’, imposing stricter lockdown measures, and Melbourne has moved into a “stage four” lockdown after recording 400-600 cases daily in the city over the past weeks. Nightly curfew has been introduced and virtually all trips outdoors have been banned. Only one person per household will be allowed to leave their homes once a day, outside of curfew hours (between 8 pm and 5 am) to pick up essential goods, and they must stay within a 5 kilometer radius of home. All new restrictions will be in effect for six weeks.   For the Australian almond industry it is important that beekeepers are able to cross borders during the pollination period. Therefore, the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management has recognized that the pollination services provided by bees are vital and the border restrictions should allow essential agricultural cross-border transport, including beehive movement. China China declared “wartime” state for Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 17, after a spike in cases of coronavirus.   With the aim of reducing the risk of imported coronavirus cases amid increased international travel, China’s aviation authority said, on July 21, that passengers of China-bound flights must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding. Tests should be conducted at facilities designated or recognized by Chinese embassies in host countries and within five days before traveling. European Union The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission is conducting a survey to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on operators in the EU agri-food supply chains. The objective of the questionnaire is to better understand the resilience, constraints and responses of operators in the agri-food chain in order to contribute with the relevant evidence to EU policy making. The survey targets companies and businesses (including SMEs and farmers) active in the primary production, distribution, processing, wholesale or retail stages of the agri-food supply chain.   The European Institution of Innovation & Technology (EIT) announced the final list of initiatives that will be awarded €6.17 million of funding as part of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Call for Innovation projects. The Call, launched in May, was designed to fast-track product or service solutions that could have a significant and immediate impact to the challenges brought about by COVID-19 on the agri-food sector. This activity directly contributes to the European Union’s response to the pandemic and focuses on supporting three food system specific challenges that EIT Food is currently tackling: improved nutrition, supply chain disruption and food safety risks.   On July 17-18, EU leaders met in Brussels in order to discuss the long-term EU budget (2021-2027) that will help the EU to rebuild after the pandemic and will support investment in the green and digital transitions. EU leaders agreed to a comprehensive package of €1,824.3 billion which combines the multiannual financial framework (MFF) and an extraordinary recovery effort under the Next Generation EU (NGEU) instrument. The MFF (€1,074.3 billion) will be the main instrument for implementing the recovery package to tackle the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19. The NGEU (€750 billion) will provide the EU with the necessary means to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.   Continuing with the response to the pandemic, the European Council adopted, on July 24, a set of conclusions aimed at restoring passengers’ and workers&#39; confidence by minimizing the risk of infection in cross-border collective passenger transport systems. Among the recommended measures are the physical distance (or the use of masks), the digital ticketing and digital ticket inspections, and the high standards of fresh air circulation and cleanliness.   Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, as from 31 July member states should gradually lift the travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Australia, Canada Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.   As for the circulation of goods, taking into account that the difficulties to perform official controls and other official activities will persist, the EC has decided to extend, for the second time, the use of electronic documentation until October 1, 2020, through the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1087 of 23 July 2020, which prolongs the period of application of the Regulation (EU) 2020/466 of 30 March 2020. Belgium Fearing a second COVID wave, Belgium’s National Security Council (CNS) decided to extend the obligations to wear masks and fill in a travel form for returning from vacation, and to postpone phase 5 of deconfinement. Greece Greece will receive around €72 billion as part of the recovery package agreed by the EU. This stimulus would be an opportunity to diversify the country’s economy and develop other sectors, such as green energy and new technologies.   From July 28, passengers from Bulgaria and Romania are obliged to provide proof of a negative PCR result for COVID-19 taken up to 72 hours before their entry to Greece.   According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “Greece has responded swiftly and effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic and has so far managed to contain the spread of infections, but the economy has been hit hard, adding to long-standing challenges”. The new OECD Economic Survey of Greece proposes a set of reforms to overcome the COVID-19 consequences while promoting a stronger and more inclusive growth. Italy  Italy launched the Immuni contact-tracing app, designed to help manage the coronavirus crisis. As of now, the app has been downloaded about 4.3 million times –about 12% of people between 24 and 75. Mr. Domenico Arcuri, Special commissioner for the emergency, said that the app “did not reach the expected target”, which was fixed at 60% of the total population. Spain On July 18, Catalonia’s regional government asked people from Barcelona and its surrounding to “stay at home” for 15 days after resurgence in COVID-19 cases.   Madrid announced the obligation of wearing mask in all public spaces, even when social distancing measures are respected. The new rule, which was already introduced in all of Spain’s regions with the exception of the Canary Islands, came into effect on July 28. Portugal The European Investment Bank Group and Banco Santander Consumer Portugal are joining forces to support Portuguese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps affected by the crisis. The two agreements will provide €587 million to inject liquidity and finance investments. United Kingdom The UK periodically updates the list of countries and territories from where people can travel to England and may not have to self-isolate (“travel corridors”). Passengers have to self-isolate when they arrive in England, if they are travelling from one of the countries that is not on the exempt list. On July 26, Spain was removed from the list.   Growing evidence suggests that being obese or excessively overweight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19. Public Health England (PHE) launched a new campaign to encourage people to live healthier lives and reduce the risk of serious illness, including COVID-19.  India According to a USDA GAIN Report released on July 17, the increase of cargo movement in Mumbai port continues, reaching a new record in rail volumes. In Chennai, there were no congestions or berthing delays, at the time of writing the report. According to the latest Port Situation Update, Mumbai expects to spur greater trade flows for the port in the medium- and long-term. Mundra, Mangalore and Kolkata ports are running normally, but movements continue to be slow in Kandla and Chennai. South Africa The National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa (NPPOZA) notified the World Trade Organization of the use of normal A4 printing paper while issuing phytosanitary certificates, which entered into force on July 13. Due to the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, NPPOZA will be temporarily issuing phytosanitary certificates, generated from the eCertification system, printed on normal A4 paper, and with the following features: QR code, 2X barcodes and coat of arms in color. Therefore, South Africa has now two types of certificate paper in international trade: the original paper with security features, and the A4 paper with QR and bar codes (until further notice).   The IMF approved South Africa’s request for emergency financial assistance of US$ 4.3 billion under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to meet the urgent balance of payment (BOP) needs stemming from the outbreak of the pandemic.   On July 31, the OECD published the Economic Survey of South Africa, highlighting that the country responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sharp drop in activity adds to long-standing challenges and raises the urgency of structural reforms. As measurers to overcome the COVID-19 shock, OECD recommends lowering interest rates; providing temporary financial support to households and businesses; and extending financial relief in sectors hard hit by the crisis.  Turkey  As part of a set of measures against the COVID-19 outbreak, Turkey suspended flights to Iran and Afghanistan. United States The first large study of the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine started on Monday 27, in the US. The study, a Phase 3 clinical trial, will enroll 30,000 healthy people at about 89 sites around the US this summer. The vaccine is being developed by Moderna partnered with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NHI).   The California Governor announced, on July 24, support for workers to isolate and quarantine outside their home, new actions to increase outreach and education to slow the spread and reduce the risk for COVID-19, and new resources for employers to support a safe, clean environment for workers and customers. A new program, Housing for the Harvest, will provide safe, temporary isolation spaces for agricultural and farmworkers who test positive or were exposed to the virus. #WearAMask and #StoptheSpread campaigns will expand its reach to reduce risk for COVID-19 at work, at home, and in the community. In addition, a new Employer Playbook will guide California businesses on how to provide a clean environment for workers and customers to reduce risk. Vietnam After a few months without cases, Vietnam has closed Da Nang to tourists after four new coronavirus cases were recorded. No tourists can enter the city for 14 days and extra flights are being laid on to fly out up to 80,000 visitors. Dietary Recommendations during the COVID-19 Pandemic This review summarizes recent scientific studies and existing recommendations from national and international nutrition agencies on an optimal diet, vitamin and mineral supplementation, and good hygiene practices for food preparation during the COVID-19 pandemic.   Nutrients such as zinc and vitamins A, C and D have been mentioned by several nutrition guidelines to play a key role in optimizing the immune system. Adequate intakes of these micronutrients may be obtained by a daily diet that includes lean meat, fish, lentils and beans, dairy foods, nuts, seeds, eggs, citrus fruits and vegetables. Vitamin D can be also obtained through exposure of the skin to the sun.   On the other hand, unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fatty acids are known for their favorable immune-modulatory action. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, present in walnuts, seafood, algal oil, marine fish and flaxseed may support the immune system, while omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive, sunflower, and safflower oils and nuts may have antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiviral effects.   In their discussion of nutritional recommendations during COVID-19 quarantine, the role of tryptophan was highlighted in the regulation of satiety and caloric intake, suggesting protein-rich foods such as dairy, seeds and nuts as good sources.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-august-4-2020INC Interviews Leadership Team for Insights into COVID-19 and the Nut and Dried Fruit IndustryJuly 30, 2020. As the world continues to grapple with the implications of the COVID-19, the INC reached out to various members of the leadership, to interview and gain their perspective of how the nut and dried fruit industry has been affected by the pandemic. One of the most repeated answers among the leadership was that the nut and dried fruit industry most certainly has faced numerous challenges with COVID-19, however, there are many reasons to be optimistic for the future. Behrooz Agah, from the Agah Group in Iran and an INC Ambassador to Iran commented, “promotion and increased awareness as to the benefits of consumption of different products in this section on general health and well-being” is likely to be of increased importance in the aftermath of COVID-19. Likewise, in China, Chen Qi, from QiaQia Food and a member of the INC Board of Trustees noted, “because of consumers growing demand for staying healthy, this industry will accelerate in China.” Pratap Nair, from Vijayalaxmi Cashew Company in India and member of the INC Executive Committee stated, “I am certain our strong and resilient industry will have the strength to overcome this challenge.” Similarly, Jan Vincent Rieckmann from August Töpfer in Germany and Roby Danon from Voicevale in the UK, both members of the INC Board of Trustees, expressed their confidence in the industry, especially in the future.   Ashok Krishen, from Olam Singapore and INC Vice Chairman, added “consumer behavior and habits are likely to change and we will need to be agile to meet the changed expectations.” The full article can be found on the INC website.   Download the press release.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-interviews-leadership-team-for-insights-into-covid-19-and-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industryINC Successfully Launches Negotiation in Times of Crisis WebinarThe current COVID-19 pandemic has put us all in an unprecedented situation and almost all professional negotiations have been affected by the crisis. Negotiation is an essential skill for leaders, entrepreneurs and managers. With over 150 participants from 28 countries, this session explored the main principles of crisis negotiation and took a look at the essential elements of negotiation skills and how they can be used effectively in times of crisis. The webinar was presented by Prof. Dr. Kandarp Mehta, from the prestigious IESE Business School Barcelona, ranked 1st in the world for Executive Education by Financial Times for a record 6th year, and author of the INC Academia Unit 11 “Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills for Successful Negotiations”. INC members can find the full webinar on the INC TV Channel and for those who are interested in becoming a member, check out the membership benefits! Webinar Speaker Prof. Dr. Kandarp Mehta is a senior lecturer in the Entrepreneurship Department and the Negotiation Unit at IESE Business School, Barcelona, ranked 1st in the world for Executive Education by Financial Times for a record 6th year. Prof. Dr. Mehta is a PhD from IESE Business School and a recipient of the Dispute Resolution Research Center advisory fellowship from Kellogg School of Management. Joining the Entrepreneurship Department at IESE in October 2009, his research has focused on creativity in organizations and in negotiations. He has conducted several Negotiation and Creativity Workshops for corporate executives and management students in India and Spain.   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/join-the-inc-for-the-negotiation-in-times-of-crisis-webinarCOVID-19 Update: July 20, 2020In the US, there are different social distancing recommendations, and other prevention measures in place across the country. States including Florida, California and Texas have reported record numbers of cases. In addition to this, California rolled back the reopening plans due to the increase of cases. In Australia, to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements, the Government agreed to reduce international flight arrivals. There are also interstate travel restrictions in place. WHO In a recent media briefing, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted the fact that the virus shall be a serious concern worldwide: “Let me be blunt, too many countries are headed in the wrong direction, the virus remains public enemy number one”, he told from WHO headquarters in Geneva. In addition to this, Dr. Tedros also said that “If the basics aren’t followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse. But it does not have to be this way. Every single leader, every single government and every single person can do their bit to break chains of transmission and end the collective suffering”. Another concern of the WHO is the rising levels of famine in the poorest countries.   Dr. Tedros also indicated that there will not be a return to the ‘old normal’ for the foreseeable future, but there is a roadmap to a scenario where the pandemic is under control and people are able to get on with their lives. In order to face this scenario, there are three issues to consider: (1) reduce mortality and suppress transmission, (2) taking individual behavior measures for the general interest, and (3) strong government leadership and coordination of comprehensive strategies, which need to be clearly communicated.   While it is too soon to assess the full impact of COVID-19, the report titled The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 estimates that more people may face chronic hunger by the end of this year. A preliminary assessment suggests that COVID-19 may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020 depending on the economic growth scenario.   On July 9, the WHO announced the initiation of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) in order to evaluate the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. OECD On July 8, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the Employment Outlook 2020. This report focuses on worker security amid the COVID-19 outbreak. As the effects of the pandemic and its mitigation measures hit OECD economies, millions of people have been unable to go to work, resulting in an exceptional drop, in activity and unprecedented job losses. Some countries reported up to 10 times fewer hours worked, compared with the first months of the 2008 financial crisis. The report also indicates that unemployment rates are expected to remain high in 2021.   On July 16, the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a joint report on the agricultural outlook from 2020 to 2029. This report found that prices of most commodities are expected to remain at or below their current levels due to the fact that supply growth is going to outpace demand growth. At the same time, a decrease in disposable incomes in the poorest countries and households is expected to depress demand and could also undermine food security. China On July 13, the Beijing Leading Group on COVID-19 Response held its 76th meeting. Beijing’s COVID-19 situation has improved, despite the pandemic is not fully under control and the fact that lowering measures may lead to a resurgence of new cases. The meeting underscored the need to ensure strict compliance with early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment, and the implementation of all containment measures. In addition to this, the Group also called for efforts to boost the reopening of the economy and achieve normality at a faster pace. European Union On July 7, the European Commission (EC) published the Regulation 2020/977, which provides flexibility regarding official controls of organic products due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The extensive movement restrictions both in EU and in third countries constitute an unprecedented challenge for Member States to perform controls. Therefore, authorities should be allowed to postpone physical inspections and rely on documentary checks.   On July 9, Mr. Mário Centeno, President of the Eurogroup, in the remarks following a Eurogroup videoconference, said that the European Fiscal Board (EFB), the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurogroup ministers support timely and targeted policies to combat the pandemic and to protect economies and societies. However, regarding the next year, “uncertainty remains very high. The policy challenges may change in the coming months and our policy responses may have to adapt. As ministers gear up their budget preparations for next year, there is broad consensus on supportive policies for next year as well”.   The EC and the World Bank Group renewed an agreement to strengthen development cooperation, on July 10. This agreement guides the terms under which the Bank Group will use EU funding to implement development projects worldwide. Mr. Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director for Operations, said, “COVID-19 has added a new layer of complexity to the challenges faced by our client countries. Our partnership with the European Commission is now more important than ever as we work together to end extreme poverty, increase shared prosperity, and improve the lives of millions of people around the world”.   On July 14, the European Council adopted measures to facilitate and speed up the development of a vaccine against COVID-19. The act provides temporary derogation from the prior environmental risk assessment required in the EU legislation for clinical trials with vaccines.   On July 16,  following the first review of the gradual lifting of restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of third countries for which Member States should lift restrictions. This list will continue to be updated every two weeks and includes the following countries as of today: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.   In order to provide information for international travelers desiring to visit EU countries, the web platform Re-open EU was issued on July 16. The interactive map brings up real-time information on the situation concerning the free movement and available means of transport. It also covers public health and safety measures, such as physical distancing or the use of facemasks, as well as other practical information for travelers. Italy On July 10, Italy banned the entry of people from 13 countries, including, among others, Bangladesh, Brazil and Chile. Travelers who stayed or transited through any of these countries in the previous 14 days, will not be allowed to enter into the country. Italian residents returning from these countries are asked to self-isolate for two weeks. Spain  The prime ministers of Spain and Italy, on July 9, called for the adoption of the European Commission’s €750 billion COVID-19 recovery plan, presenting a united front among two of the EU countries hardest hit by the pandemic and its social and economic consequences. United Kingdom According to CNBC, in May, the UK economy rebounded 1.8% due to the easing of lockdown measures. However, the UK economy grew less than expected, as economists had expected a monthly rebound of 5.5%. India According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, Mumbai port handled 5% more containers in June, compared to the previous month, demonstrating a slow recovery in trade. However, from April to June, Mumbai port saw a drop in cargo volume of 31%, Tuticorin -14%, Kandla -20%, and Chennai nearly -40%, compared to the same period last year.   Regarding food and retail in India, according to a USDA GAIN Report, Pune markets reported low demand due to the closure of hotels and restaurants, despite a steady increase in the demand, which is still significantly below pre-pandemic levels. In Surat, traders and wholesale associations have agreed to restrict their working hours from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm until July 27, to prevent large crowds from gathering at grocery shops. In Cochin, the delivery of essential commodities is being delayed by COVID-19 restrictions, which are forcing drivers to take longer routes to avoid containment zones. According to a local media report, in Kolkata, a strict seven-day lockdown has been imposed in containment zones across the state of West Bengal. Just before the lockdown, residents resorted to panic-buying. Panama  According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the shutdown of economic activities to mitigate the effects of the pandemic has forced the retail food sector to adapt and innovate with e-commerce and delivery platforms. In the short and medium-term, consumers are expected to stay at home more and consequently eat more meals there. Singapore  Singapore entered into a technical recession after the economy contracted more than 40% in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter. The economic performance worsened due to the implementation of partial lockdown measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus. Compared to the previous year, the Singapore economy contracted by 12.6% in the second quarter, while the forecast was 10.5% drop. Sri Lanka Sri Lanka revised the temporary import controls on June 30, according to a USDA GAIN Report. The new regulation applies mainly on commodities loaded on or after June 30, at the loading port. The regulation is flexible for import of raw materials for local value addition, and export processing, while others are allowed on a restricted basis. Sri Lanka also revised import control regulations at several stages since the start of the pandemic. Turkey Turkey maintained dried fruit export volume amid the pandemic. During the first semester of 2020, exports reached $606.5 million, according to the Turkish Exporters&#39; Assembly. The dried fruits sector maintained its export volume to a great extent compared to the same period last year. In April and May, when the COVID-19 measures were stepped up, exports fell gradually, declining to $104.1 million and $74.4 million, respectively. By June, when many countries accelerated the normalization process, the sector increased its exports by 40.7% year-on-year to $89.5 million. United States On July 9, a list of additional commodities, including pistachios, have been added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). From July 13, producers will be able to submit applications. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting applications until August 28. The USDA is expected to announce additional eligible commodities in the coming weeks.   The CFAP is intended to provide direct relief to producers of agricultural commodities who faced a 5 percent or greater price decline, or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs. The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers.   The US officially notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the WHO on July 7. The withdrawal is expected to take effect on July 6, 2021. Vietnam According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the COVID-19 outbreak hit the retail food sector in the short term. However, the pandemic has offered opportunities for the e-commerce sector. This sector was already experiencing significant annual growth of 30% over the past two years and the estimations are that the market could reach $13 billion by the end of the year. The GDP growth for 2020 is forecasted down to 2.8% due to the negative impacts of the pandemic.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-july-20-2020Nutfruit Power Campaign Reaches Millions Choose Your Challenge and Go Nuts! At the center of the dissemination plan was a video showcasing how including nuts and dried fruits in your breakfast can give you the power to face challenges during the day. This video, by the end of the campaign, gained over 1 million views via YouTube. Impressively, the results showed that 95% of viewers watched the clip for 33 out of the 35 seconds of the video. In total, the total potential audience impacts of the main video came in at over 25 million.   Nutfruit Power Social Media and Influencers Besides the main video, the INC capitalized on social media as a way to expand the reach of the project. The hashtag #NutfruitPowerChallenge quickly gained momentum and in total, INC posts using this hashtag received over 233,000 interactions across Instagram and Facebook. Moreover, the INC saw the use of influencers as an even greater way to connect with the social media community. In total, 17 established influencers from 12 different countries around the world joined the challenge. Their posts saw over 1 million interactions and with over 6 million total followers on social media, the message continued to spread! Healthy Breakfast Recipes As the impact of the influencers grew, the social media community got behind the challenge. Individual people joined the campaign and began sharing healthy breakfast recipes using the hashtag, #NutfruitPowerChallenge. Although the campaign wrapped up in March, posts using the hashtag continue to be published, indicating a strong impression on the community. Furthermore, aligning with the “morning energy” message from the dissemination plan, the INC used the Communication and Marketing recipe campaign to share even more healthy breakfast recipes. These showed people just how easy it is to incorporate nuts and dried fruit into their morning routine. On YouTube, these recipes gained over 3 million views!   Looking Forward to 2020/2021 & “Real Power for Real People” In conclusion, the 2019/2020 dissemination campaign was a success, reaching millions of consumers and showing just how easy and impactful it can be to add nuts and dried fruits into your daily routine! For the 2020/2021 campaign, the INC will focus on how nuts and dried fruits can help boost your attitudinal immunity. In the unprecedented times that we live in, with a global pandemic and constant bad news in the media, nuts and dried fruits can give consumers the power to be immune to this negativity and face each day. The campaign’s slogan, “Real Power for Real People” establishes the connection that as real people who have to consistently face negativity, it is time to use real power, from nuts and dried fruits, to boost our attitudinal immunity! https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/nutfruit-power-campaign-reaches-millionsCOVID-19 Update: July 9, 2020WHO In a recent media briefing on COVID-19, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom highlighted the fact that a comprehensive approach is the fastest way out of the pandemic: “The fastest way out of this pandemic is to follow the science and do what we know works: the comprehensive approach”. In addition to this, Dr. Tedros remarked the fact that Italy and Spain, a few months ago, were the epicenter of the pandemic, but both countries eventually controlled the spread of COVID-19: “with a combination of leadership, humility, active participation by every member of society, and implementing a comprehensive approach. Both countries faced a daunting situation, but turned it around”. FFA The Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) held the Regional Online Live meeting titled Food system resilience, sustainability and the COVID-19 crisis: looking ahead to the German Presidency of the EU. The discussion assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the EU food system and explored the necessary response. The discussion focused on how the EU can best use its new policy initiatives like the Farm to Fork Strategy to not just help the food system recover, but to do so in a sustainable way. Australia Most Australian states dramatically slowed or eradicated the virus as well as the measures to mitigate its consequences. However, in Melbourne, 12 suburbs have been putting “stage three”  restrictions, and therefore, people will only be able to leave their house for work or education, exercise, medical care or care-giving, and shopping for supplies. In addition to this, nine tower blocks in the city are facing a more rigorous lockdown. Chile According to Chilenut the volume of walnut exports accumulated, as of May 31, have decreased 37%, compared to the same period of the previous year. However, the drop in exports can be mainly explained because certain varieties had lower production, instead of the effects of the COVID-19 on international trade. It is expected that the level of shipments will normalize in the coming months and reach similar volumes to previous seasons. China In Beijing, new coronavirus cases have remained low. On July 7, Beijing reported zero new cases. Health authorities have declared that the pandemic situation is under control and continues to improve in Beijing. However, in order to prevent future outbreaks, strict control measures must remain in place. According to a USDA GAIN Report issued on June 22, the COVID-19 pandemic generated new approaches to serving China’s 1 billion adult consumers. Both the government and the industry enacted measures to open commerce when public health authorities required lockdowns throughout most of the provinces and cities in China. While traditional supermarkets saw some growth in their business as consumers were unable to dine out, the eCommerce industry attracted more users and generated double and even triple sales value for fresh produce and other food items. European Union On June 30, the EU agreed to start lifting travel restrictions for residents of some third countries, based on public health requirements and other criteria. From July 1, EU Member States started lifting travel restrictions at the external borders for residents of the following third countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity. Residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican should be considered as EU residents for the purpose of this recommendation. The list of countries shall be reviewed and updated every two weeks. On June 24, the EU Council adopted a regulation that allows Member States, as an exceptional measure, to pay up to €7,000 to farmers and up to €50,000 to small and medium enterprises (SME&#39;s) active in processing, marketing or development of agricultural products. The aim of this regulation is to use the existing funds for rural development programs in order to support farmers and SME&#39;s worst-hit by the COVID-19, and to address liquidity problems. Member States are allowed to identify beneficiaries and to adapt the amount of payments. In the case of farmers, the eligibility criteria must include production sectors and type of farming, among others. In the case of SME&#39;s, the criteria may include sectors, types of activity and types of regions. The EU also extended the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules until the end of 2022. The Council reached a common understanding with the European Parliament on June 30, on continuing to support EU farmers under the current legal framework until the end of 2022 when the new CAP will enter into force. On June 30, the Republic of Korea and EU Leaders held a videoconference meeting. They expressed their strong commitment to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic by working together with partners globally and in solidarity, including in the G20 and the United Nations system. The EU commended the Republic of Korea’s proactive and innovative steps to prevent and tackle COVID-19 in a transparent, open and democratic way. The leaders stressed the importance of strengthened response capacities and enhanced information sharing. The EU and the Republic of Korea will seek to strengthen cooperation in this regard, involving the respective health authorities and centers for disease control. Greece The Greek Government announced the steps that tourists need to take in order to travel to Greece. According to Euractiv, an online form shall be filled at least 48 hours before traveling. Then, the data will be evaluated by experts based on risk criteria, such as the country of origin, health records, as well as the countries to which the tourist has previously traveled. Upon arrival to Greece, the traveler will show a special barcode to the authorities. A 14 day quarantine will apply if someone is found positive of COVID-19. Italy The EU Commission approved four Italian aid schemes to support companies and self-employed workers affected by the COVID-19. Italy notified these four aid schemes to the Commission under the Temporary Framework, with an overall estimated budget of €7.6 billion. The schemes waive certain taxes and provide tax credits to companies and self-employed workers affected by the outbreak. These measures are included in a wider package to support the Italian economy in the context of the pandemic, the so-called Decreto Rilancio. According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, online food shopping experienced a significant surge in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic, growing by 145% from February 17 to May 3, compared to the same period last year. Convenience stores and discount stores also increased sales. However, the closure of restaurants, bars, catering services and shopping centers significantly lowered the sales in these businesses. Spain According to a USDA GAIN Report issued on June 24, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish food retail and distribution sector had the fewest stock shortages compared to neighboring countries. Regional retailers and eCommerce were the preferred ways to shop for groceries. In addition to this, consumers preferred domestic foods, which is a trend expected to continue past the pandemic. Another recent report highlighted that the scale and impact of COVID-19 in Spain remain uncertain and fast evolving. The initial predictions on the economic effects of the pandemic are not optimistic for trade and consumption. In their latest report, the Bank of Spain projected that, in the second quarter of 2020, the Spanish GDP is expected to contract between 16 and 22%, officially indicating the start of an economic recession. This follows a record-setting GDP drop of 5.2% during the first quarter of this year. The challenge now is adjusting to the so-called “new normal” and to the short and long-term changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic.  India A recent USDA GAIN Report looks at three ordinances that will introduce major agricultural market reforms in India. These rules are expected to liberate certain existing market restrictions, eliminate trade barriers in agricultural production, and empower farmers to engage directly with potential buyers in advance of harvest. These amendments are part of the Special Economic Package to stimulate India’s agricultural sector in the post-COVID-19 economy. In the Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNP), Mumbai, operations have improved with more new drivers available, according to a USDA GAIN Report. During the lockdown, the number of drivers required fell to 2,220 from 4,000. Exports out of JNP have increased in June. However, imports have declined by 40%. Mundra, Kandla and Mangalore are still facing delays due to lack of availability of workers, trucks or containers. According to another GAIN Report, the food retail situation in India is diverse. As some markets and grocery stores in Pune, Bhopal and Goa reopened due to the relaxation of lockdown measures, other markets in Hyderabad and Chennai closed. The first one because the death of a vendor, who tested positive for COVID-19, and the second, due to a full lockdown imposed from June 19 to 30. In Chennai, grocery retailers in certain areas shut down operations for ten days due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Japan In Japan, following requests for people to stay home during the pandemic, retail sales at supermarkets major chains have surged, up 20 to 30% in March and April, according to a GAIN Report. However, restaurant and hotel food service sales fell dramatically as schools closed, tourism halted, and public outings were greatly reduced. Senegal The Government of Senegal enacted several measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19, such as curfews, border closures and movement restrictions, according to a recent GAIN Report. In April 2020, Senegal launched the Economic and Social Resilience Program to support many parts of the economy, including tourism and agriculture. In addition to this, on June 29, the Government announced that is working on a post-COVID economic program to relaunch the economy, which will prioritize several key sectors including agriculture, manufacturing and tourism, among others. United States On June 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint statement on food export restrictions related to COVID-19. According to this statement, the US understands consumers’ concerns about the precautions to prioritize food safety, especially during these challenging times. However, certain measures taken by some countries, which restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission, are not consistent with scientific approach. As stated in the joint declaration: “There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export”. The US announced work visa suspensions in late June. However, according to Fresh Fruit Portal, seasonal farmworkers who use the H-2A visa are exempt from the new measures, amid an ongoing labor shortage in the agricultural industry and increasing reliance on the guest worker program.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-july-9-2020UN Agricultural Quality Standards, Online Meeting Member States reviewed the existing Standard for Prunes; the new standards for inshell pecans, pecan kernels, dried persimmons, apricot kernels, inshell peanuts and peanuts kernels; the Standard Layout and the Sampling Plan for tree nuts and dried produce. The following explanatory materials were also reviewed: explanatory guide for dried apricots and explanatory posters for dried figs, dried grapes, walnut kernels, cashew kernels and prunes.   Among other future works, the Specialized Section decided to review the existing Standard for Cashew Kernels.   Session and Post-session Documents https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/un-agricultural-quality-standardsCanada: MRLs UpdateThe PMRL for fenpropathrin in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is set at 0.15 ppm, replacing the currently established MRL of 0.10 ppm.   The final date for comments is August 22, 2020.   Consultation on Fenpropathrin, Proposed Maximum Residue Limit PMRL2020-22   In addition, as previously announced, the PMRLs for mefentrifluconazole was adopted on June 7, 2020. The MRL for mefentrifluconazole in tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is set at 0.06 ppm; in dried prune plums and raisins at 4.0 ppm; in peanuts at 0.01 ppm.   Health Canada Database https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/canada-mrls-update-42China: MRLs UpdateAs previously notified, the draft amended several pesticide MRLs for different food commodities. Regarding nuts and dried fruits, the following MRLs were listed:   Fluopyram: peanut at 0.02 ppm. Flutriafol: almond at 0.6 ppm and pecan at 0.02 ppm. Isofetamid: grape at 5.0 ppm. Pyrifluquinazon: plum at 0.1 ppm and grape at 1.0 ppm. Pyriofenone: grape at 2.0 ppm. Quinclorac: cranberry at 1.5 ppm. Spiroxamine: grape at 0.5 ppm. Sulfentrazone: hazelnut at 0.1 ppm.   The deadline for comments is March 20, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-mrls-update-14EFSA: MRLs ReviewTo assess the occurrence of fubendiamide residues, EFSA considered the conclusions derived in the framework of Commission Regulation (EU) No 188/2011, the MRLs established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as well as the import tolerances. Based on the assessment of the available data, MRL proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out.   To assess the occurrence of meptyldinocap residues in plants, EFSA considered the conclusions derived in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, Commission Regulation (EU) No 188/2011 and the MRLs established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as well as the European authorizations reported by Member States (including the supporting residues data). Although no apparent risk to consumers was identified, some information required by the regulatory framework was missing.   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Fubendiamide tree nuts 0.1 0.1 Recommended apricots 1.5 2 Recommended plums 0.7 2 Recommended grapes 2 2 Recommended Meptyldinocap grapes 1 0.2 Further consideration needed   EFSA Reasoned Opinion on the Review of the existing maximum residue levels for fubendiamide according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(6):6150   EFSA Reasoned Opinion on the Review of the existing maximum residue levels for meptyldinocap (DE-126) according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(6):6157 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/efsa-mrls-review-3EFSA: Import TolerancesAfter the request of setting import tolerances for the active substance flonicamid on the basis of the authorized use in the USA, EFSA concluded that the authorized USA uses of fonicamid will not result in acute or chronic consumer exposure exceeding the toxicological reference values and, therefore, is unlikely to pose a risk to consumers’ health.   EFSA was requested to set import tolerances and to modify existing EU maximum residue levels (MRLs) for the active substance flupyradifurone and its metabolite difluoroacetic acid (DFA) in various crops. For some commodities, EFSA concludes that the intended EU uses and authorized US and Canadian uses of flupyradifurone and resulting residues of DFA will not result in chronic or acute consumer exposure exceeding the toxicological reference values and, therefore, is unlikely to pose a risk to consumers’ health.   Among others, EFSA proposes to amend the existing MRLs as follows:   Substance Commodity Existing MRL (ppm) Proposed MRL (ppm) Comments Flonicamid tree nuts (except coconuts and pistachios) 0.06* 0.07 The submitted data are sufficient to derive an import tolerance based on the authorized US GAP. Risk for consumers unlikely pistachios 0.06* 0.3 Flupyradifurone tree nuts 0.01* 0.02 The submitted data are sufficient to derive an import tolerance (US/Canadian GAP). Risk for consumers unlikely grapes 0.8 3 peanuts 0.01* 0.04 *Indicates lower limit of determination.   EFSA Reasoned Opinion on Setting of import tolerances for fonicamid in various crops and products of animal origin. EFSA Journal 2020;18(6):6136   EFSA Reasoned Opinion on Setting of import tolerances, modification of existing maximum residue levels and evaluation of confirmatory data following the Article 12 MRL review for flupyradifurone and DFA. EFSA Journal 2020;18(6):6133 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/efsa-flonicamid-import-tolerancesEU: MRLs UpdateAs previously reported, Regulation (EU) 2020/770 of 8 June 2020 as regards maximum residue levels for myclobutanil, napropamide and sintofen in or on certain products sets the following MRLs in nuts and dried fruits. The Regulation entered into force on July 2, 2020, and shall apply from January 2, 2021.   Myclobutanil: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts; 3 ppm in apricots; 1.5 ppm in grapes. Napropamide: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, dates, figs and peanuts; 0.02* ppm in cranberries. Sintofen: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, figs, dates and peanuts.   As previously reported, the Regulation (EU) 2020/785 of 9 June 2020 as regards maximum residue levels for chromafenozide, fluometuron, pencycuron, sedaxane, tau-fluvalinate and triazoxide in or on certain products sets the following MRLs in nuts and dried fruits. The Regulation will entered into force on July 6, 2020, and shall apply from January 6, 2021.   Chromafenozide: 0.01* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts. Pencycuron: 0.02* ppm in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts. Sedaxane: 0.01* ppm in in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts. Tau-fluvalinate: 0.01* ppm in plums, cranberries and peanuts. Triazoxide: 0.005* ppm in tree nuts and peanuts; 0.001* ppm in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates and figs.   As previously announced, Regulation (EU) 2020/856 of 9 June 2020 as regards maximum residue levels for cyantraniliprole, cyazofamid, cyprodinil, fenpyroximate, fludioxonil, fluxapyroxad, imazalil, isofetamid, kresoxim-methyl, lufenuron, mandipropamid, propamocarb, pyraclostrobin, pyriofenone, pyriproxyfen and spinetoram in or on certain products sets the following MRLs in nuts and dried fruits. The Regulation will enter into force on July 9, 2020.   Cyantraniliprole: 0.08 ppm in cranberries. Isofetamid: 3 ppm in apricots; and 0.8 ppm in plums. Kresoxim-methyl: 0.05 ppm in pecans; 1.5 ppm in grapes. Pyriofenone: 0.5 ppm in cranberries.   *Indicates lower limit of determination.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/770 of 8 June 2020 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for myclobutanil, napropamide and sintofen in or on certain products   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/785 of 9 June 2020 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for chromafenozide, fluometuron, pencycuron, sedaxane, tau-fluvalinate and triazoxide in or on certain products   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/856 of 9 June 2020 amending Annexes II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards maximum residue levels for cyantraniliprole, cyazofamid, cyprodinil, fenpyroximate, fludioxonil, fluxapyroxad, imazalil, isofetamid, kresoxim-methyl, lufenuron, mandipropamid, propamocarb, pyraclostrobin, pyriofenone, pyriproxyfen and spinetoram in or on certain product https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-mrls-update-33EU: Pesticide WithdrawalsOn June 29, 2020, the European Commission published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/892 of 29 June 2020 concerning the non-renewal of the approval of the active substance beta-cyfluthrin.   Member States shall withdraw authorizations for plant protection products containing beta-cyfluthrin as an active substance by January 20, 2021. However, any grace period granted by Member States shall expire by July 20, 2021, at the latest. This Regulation shall enter into force on July 20, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/892 of 29 June 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-pesticide-withdrawals-9EU: Pesticides, Extension of Approval PeriodsThe approval periods of these active substances is extended until June 30, 2021, or July 31, 2021, depending on the substances.   This regulation entered into force on June 26, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation 2020/869 of 24 June 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-pesticides-extension-of-approval-periods-4EU: Sustainable Use of PesticidesThe evaluation will assess the extent to which the intended objectives of the Sustainable Use of pesticides Directive (SUD) are relevant today, and the extent to which the SUD delivered against them. It will look into the reasons for the observed weaknesses in implementation, application and enforcement of the legislation.   Citizens and stakeholders are invited, until August 7, 2020, to provide views on the Commission&#39;s understanding of the current situation, problem and possible solutions, and to make available any relevant information that they may have, including on possible impacts of the different options. Feedback will be summarized and taken into account for further development and fine tuning of the initiative.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-sustainable-use-of-pesticidesEU-Vietnam: Free Trade AgreementThe Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will eliminate nearly all customs duties on goods traded between the two parties in a progressive way. The agreement also contains specific provisions to remove technical obstacles to trade.   The FTA was signed on June 30, 2019. The EU approved it on March 30, 2020 (see previous post), and its entry into force is expected by August 2020.   EU-Vietnam: National Assembly passes VN-EU trade deal https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-vietnam-free-trade-agreement-2Peru: Pistachios from ChileFollowing the completion of the relevant pest risk analysis, the proposal is being submitted for public consultation. The deadline for comments is August 8, 2020.   SENASA Public Consultation (in Spanish) https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/peru-pistachios-from-chileThailand: Contaminants and Toxins in FoodAs previously notified, the document sets the limits of contaminants and mycotoxins in foods. As for total aflatoxin in nuts and dried fruits, the following maximum limits are stablished:   Product Description Aflatoxin, total (mg/kg) Brazil nuts Whole commodity (ready to eat) 10 Shelled Brazil nuts intended for further processing 15 Pistachios Whole commodity (ready to eat) 10 Pistachios intended for further processing 15 Dried figs Whole commodity (ready to eat) 10 Peanuts Unless specified, seed or kernels, after removal of shell or husk and intended for further processing 20 Almonds Whole commodity after remove shell (ready to eat) 10 Whole commodity after remove shell (intended for further processing) 15 Hazelnuts Whole commodity after removal of shell (ready to eat) 10 Whole commodity after remove shell (intended for further processing) 15 Other nuts and dried fruits Other than the above lists 20   Royal Gazette (May 20, 2020) https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/thailand-contaminants-and-toxins-in-food-1USA: MRLs UpdateAmong others, the tolerance of fenpyroximate in peanuts is set at 0.04 ppm. This Regulation is effective since June 18, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before August 17, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 118. Thursday, June 18, 2020. Pages 36755-36758   Among others, the tolerance of cyflumetofen in plum subgroup 12-12C is set at 0.3 ppm. This Regulation is effective since July 1, 2020. Objections and requests must be received on or before August 31, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 127. Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Pages 39491-39494 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-mrls-update-41USA: Pesticide PetitionsAs regards nuts and dried fruits, the Agency received a petition to establish a new tolerance for residues of the fungicide mefenoxam metal N-(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-N-(methoxyacetyl)-DL-alaninate, in or on Tree Nut Group 14-12, at 0.3 ppm.   The final date for comments is July 24, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 122, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Pages 37806-37808 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-pesticide-petitions-24COVID-19 Update: June 25, 2020Although, it is not clear the role that the de-escalation plans can play in these outbreaks. However, there seems to be a global consensus on the long-term social and economic effects that the pandemic is expected to have. WHO                                                                             The World Health Organization (WHO) was reported 150 thousand new cases of COVID-19 on June 18, which represented the most reports in a single day so far. Almost half of the cases were reported from the Americas, but also from South Asia and the Middle East. Therefore, the risks of the pandemic are still visible, despite several countries opening their societies and economies. WHO Director-General’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus opening remarks at the media briefing of June 19, also stated that: COVID-19 has demonstrated that no one is safe until we’re all safe. Only by putting politics aside and working in true collaboration can we make a difference.   WTO At the June 8 meeting of the Committee on Market Access of the World Trade Organization (WTO), members discussed ways to ensure that the emergency measures introduced to restrict exports are lifted once they are no longer necessary. Several members stressed that any emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19 must be targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary. These measures must not create unnecessary disruptions to supply chains that could have a detrimental impact on business, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). In addition to this, some members called on governments to honor commitments to roll back the temporary trade-related measures implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure they do not become permanent.   On June 10, WTO issued a report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the participation of least-developed countries (LDCs) in global trade. The note stresses that LDCs have seen a significant decline in export earnings due to decreasing demand in key markets, falling commodity prices and a decline in remittances, and are likely to be the hardest hit by the crisis due to their limited resources to stimulate growth. The report also summarizes the measures that LDCs have taken to combat the pandemic, ranging from strengthening health care systems to providing stimulus packages to export-oriented sectors and liquidity support for small and medium-sized enterprises. OECD The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the 2020 Projected Change in GDP, which focuses on two equally probable scenarios –one in which a second wave of infections, with renewed lock-downs, hits before the end of 2020, and one in which another major outbreak is avoided. The declines in GDP vary from 1.2% (Korea) to 11.1% (Spain) in the single-hit scenario, compared to the previous period. According to OECD, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the most severe economic recession in nearly a century and is causing enormous damage to people’s health, jobs and well-being. Australia Australia is currently de-escalating COVID-19 lockdown measures since the announcement in May of a three-stage plan to ease restrictions. According to The Guardian, in New South Wales up to 50 people can dine-in at cafes and restaurants, if there are four square meters of space per person. In other states such as Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, the restrictions are stricter and restaurants can seat up to 20 patrons at once. Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed in Western Australia and Queensland and there are no limits on outside gatherings in the Northern Territory, as long as physical distancing is maintained. In other states, the maximum number of people allowed in an outdoor gathering is lower. Brazil Despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazilian society and economy, the agricultural sector in Brazil has thrived, according to a USDA GAIN Report, issued on June 16. This report also states that the rapid devaluation of the Brazilian real boosted the country’s agricultural exports. In addition to this, weak real also discouraged dollar-denominated imports and fueled internal demand for domestically produced agricultural goods. Brazilian agriculture, with the aid of the government, overcame early transportation hurdles to boost exports, while also maintaining internal supply. The country has not experienced food shortage or supply chain disruptions. However, some segments of the Brazilian population have faced increased food insecurity. China From June 11, a surge of new cases in Beijing has been detected, linked to the Xinfadi Wholesale Market. The containment measures adopted in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 include massive testing, medical observation, and disinfestation of public space, among others. All the communities and villages in Beijing have put in place level-3 emergency response, level-2 control measures and entered level-1 work mode, which includes the closure of cultural, sports, entertainment and other indoor facilities. In order to prevent further spread of the virus, three categories of people are banned from leaving Beijing. Control on inbound travel from low, medium and high-risk regions is also tightened. European Union The Eurogroup held a videoconference on June 11. The Commission has put forward a proposal for an unprecedented recovery package, integrated in the multi-annual financial framework. The key element of this package is the recovery and resilience facility to support Member States’ reforms and investments. However, EU Member States are in deep recession and additional policy actions are needed to mitigate its effects, according to the Eurogroup President Mário Centeno.  On June 15, the EU Commission backed an international initiative to facilitate trade in healthcare products. Following a first discussion among EU ministers, the EU Commission’s ideas for an international initiative to facilitate trade in healthcare products were shared with the &#39;Ottawa Group&#39; (a group of 13 like-minded WTO partners). A future agreement could facilitate trade in healthcare products and contribute to stronger global preparedness for future health shocks by: (1) abolishing tariffs on pharmaceutical and medical goods; (2) establishing a scheme of global cooperation in times of health crisis, covering issues such as import and export restrictions, customs and transit, public procurement and transparency; and (3) improving the current WTO rules applicable to trade in essential goods. France As of June 15, France opened its borders to EU and Schengen area citizens. Cafés, bars, restaurants and cinemas, among other businesses, also reopened. It is expected that travelers from third countries will be allowed to enter to France from July 1. Chambres d’Agriculture (APCA) has presented a post-COVID-19 plan for the recovery of the agricultural sector. The different measures include the further development of deficit sectors to gain competitiveness, the promotion of local food supplies and agritourism, the easing of regulatory barriers, and the promotion of self-sufficiency, among others. The plan stresses the need to reclaim food sovereignty and to enhance self-sufficiency (agricultural production within a radius of up to 100 km), due to the fact that several studies have shown that its rate in the 100 largest urban areas was only 2.1% on average. Germany According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the rules which ease the entry process of seasonal agricultural workers entered into force on June 16. These rules facilitate arrivals and departures of workers, set strict infection protection measures on the workplace, and require immediate notification in case of infection, to ease the traceability of the illness. Italy Lockdown measures are being released. However, social distancing and hygiene measures remain. Italy reopened its borders to EU citizens on June 3. There are no limitations for visitors who travel to Italy from EU countries, but quarantine is still a requirement for people arriving from third countries. According to RFI, as the downward trend for both fatalities and new cases continues, nearly all businesses have gone back to work, operating in a new manner and with restrictions. On June 13, a statement from the EU Council, during the ‘Stati Generali dell’economia’ recognized the efforts made for the economic and social recovery of Italy. The European Council President Charles Michel also highlighted the fact that other governments replicated some of the measures taken by Italian authorities in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Spain On June 21, the state of alarm ended in Spain, allowing residents to travel freely throughout the territory, and Spanish borders were opened to EU and Schengen-area citizens, except from Portugal. Travelers from Portugal and countries outside the Schengen area will be permitted to enter from July 1, only if there is a reciprocal agreement on travel, and taking into consideration the epidemiological situation in the country of origin. Strict hygiene and social distancing measures are applicable and face masks in public spaces are mandatory. The Netherlands The Dutch foodservice-HRI industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a USDA GAIN Report issued on June 17. Despite foodservice outlets were permitted to operate from June 1, all bars, cafés and restaurants closed their doors for an extended period of time. Just one week after opening, four out of ten entrepreneurs indicated that they were not sure if they could afford to keep their businesses functioning. While many Dutch restaurants made investments in order to comply with the government’s social distancing requirements, guests still appear reluctant to a massive return. India The situation of the ports is still uncertain. According to a USDA GAIN Report of June 16, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai is still dealing with the effects of an exodus of migrant workers who returned to their home states in May. This labor shortage has had an impact on both imports and exports, which declined since May, after 70% of the contracted labor force returned home. Despite the labor shortages, port authorities have reduced container congestion over the past month. Reports indicate that 95,000 containers previously held at container freight stations have been moved to inland container depots, which has reduced the backlog. Exporters hope that new investments in loading mechanization will help them overcome labor shortage issues in the medium to long term. The report also states that in Mundra, truck freight rates have increased significantly. However, media reports that truck availability is increasing nationwide. According to another USDA GAIN Report, the food retail situation in India is slowly improving since the beginning of the lockdown. In Hyderabad, all store staff are now able to work, compared to only 30% at the beginning of the lockdown. The retail chains report that 90% of products are available, including fruits and vegetables, whose prices are expected to stabilize due to lockdown relaxation measures. In Pune, two-thirds of the city’s farmers markets are reopening. As part of the relaxation of the lockdown, Mumbai area shops can remain open throughout the day, as long as the night curfew is not violated. Russia A recent USDA GAIN Report states that the Russian food processing industry is growing, driven by an ambitious national goal of increasing food exports by 70% by 2024, and strong government support for domestic agricultural production. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the incomes are expected to decline, as many experts predict an economy contraction by around 1% in 2020, instead of the previously projected growth of 2%. Falling investment and a decline in real income may affect business and consumer confidence during the COVID-19 crisis. South Africa South Africa is expected to enter into alert 2 level by July. This level will allow several leisure and social activities, applying physical distancing, hygienic and other measures to prevent the resurgence of the virus. United States According to The Guardian, 29 states reported a raise of new cases, amid the fear of a second outbreak of COVID-19 infections. Most of the new infections are in states such as Georgia, Florida and Texas, which were among the first to launch reopening measures. In order to prevent new cases during the easing of lockdown measures, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warnings on the need for social distancing and face masks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 16, that it has purchased more than $2.2 billion of meat, fruits, vegetables, specialty crops and dairy products in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, in the context of the USDA Trade Mitigation Programs.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-june-25-2020INC Releases 2019/2020 Annual ReportThe 2019/2020 Annual Report is broken down into five groups, giving a comprehensive overview of the past year. Organization The first section features a world map displaying the locations of INC members and INC Ambassadors. It also introduces the leadership of the INC by listing the names of the members of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee, Senators, and the Ambassadors Committee.    INC Activities This section highlights the various activities that the INC plans and participates in. For example, data on the 2019 Boca Raton Congress participants and awards can be found. Moreover, information on INC Pavillions at Anuga Cologne and Gulfood Dubai, the INC Academia, and the publications such as the Nutfruit magazine, newsletter, the statistical yearbook, the import border rejection report and the technical kits are provided. Health & Nutrition In Health and Nutrition, the members of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination are listed and their goals to disseminate health information are explained. The dissemination efforts are detailed through information on research grants given by the INC, open calls, and nutrition symposia. The section also mentions the scientific studies funded by the INC.   Marketing & Communication This section is separated into two sections. The first part discusses the communication and marketing plan of the INC, including press releases, social media, created content, the INC website, and online advertising. The second part focuses on the results of the Nutfruit Power Campaign, specifically detailing the video campaign, the campaign website, social media, and influencers.   Sustainability, Scientific & Government Affairs The final segment of the annual report highlights the topics concerning the Sustainability, Scientific, and Government Affairs Committee such as pesticides, contaminants, additives, import border rejections, and calls for scientific proposals. Additionally, global statistics, ad hoc working groups, and information regarding the Business Integrity Committee and tariffs are featured. 2019/2020 Annual Report   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-releases-2019-2020-annual-reportThailand: MRLs UpdateFollowing the prohibition of the use of chlorpyrifos and paraquat that took effect on June 1, 2020, the Ministry of Public Health proposed to revise Annex 1, List of hazardous substance type 4 (banned pesticide), and Annex 2, Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs), of Notification of the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), No. 387 (B.E. 2560) (2017). The Draft is amended as follows:   Chlorpyrifos, Chlorpyrifos-methyl, Paraquat, Paraquat dichloride, Paraquat [bis (methyl sulphate)] or paraquat methosulfate are classified as hazardous substance type 4 under the Hazardous Substance Act B.E. 2535 (1992) in the Annex 1 of the Notification of MOPH, No. 387. The Maximum Residue Limit (MRLs) for the aforementioned pesticides are deleted in food from Annex 2 of the MOPH Notification No. 387 (lower than the detection limit or not detected). Manufacturers and importers who produce or import food products prior to June 1, 2020, can refer to the MRLs for such pesticides in Annex 2 of the MOPH Notification, No. 387 or Codex MRLs but shall comply with the new requirement within 30 days as from the date on which this Notification comes into force.   The deadline for comments is June 19, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/thailand-mrls-update-1UK: Global TariffsThe UK will impose Global Tariffs to all imports from January 1, 2021, if the transition period is not extended. These tariffs will replace EU’s Common External Tariffs, which apply until the end of the transition period, December 31, 2020.   Among other commodities, UK Global Tariffs will be applicable to the following nuts and dried fruits:   HS Code Article description EU Common External Tariff UK Global Tariff 0801 2100 Brazil nuts, in-shell 0.00% 0.00% 0801 2200 Brazil nuts, shelled 0.00% 0.00% 0801 3100 Cashew nuts, in-shell 0.00% 0.00% 0801 3200 Cashew nuts, shelled 0.00% 0.00% 0802 1100 Almonds, in-shell 5.60% 4.00% 0802 1200 Almonds, shelled 3.50% 2.00% 0802 2100 Hazelnuts, in-shell 3.20% 2.00% 0802 2200 Hazelnuts, shelled 3.20% 2.00% 0802 3100 Walnuts, in-shell 4.00% 4.00% 0802 3200 Walnuts, shelled 5.10% 4.00% 0802 5100 Pistachios, in-shell 1.60% 0.00% 0802 5200 Pistachios, shelled 1.60% 0.00% 0802 6190 Macadamia nuts, in-shell 2.00% 2.00% 0802 6200 Macadamia nuts, shelled 2.00% 2.00% 0802 9010 Pecans 0.00% 0.00% 0802 9050 Pine nuts, shelled 2.00% 2.00% 0804 1000 Dates, fresh or dried 7.70% 6.00% 0804 2000 Figs, fresh or dried 8.00% 8.00% 0806 2010 Currants 2.40% 2.00% 0806 2030 Sultanas 2.40% 2.00% 0806 2090 Grapes, dried (excl. currants and sultanas) 2.40% 2.00% 0813 1000 Apricots, dried 5.60% 4.00% 0813 2000 Prunes 9.60% 8.00% 1202 4100 Peanuts, in-shell 0.00% 0.00% 1202 4200 Peanuts, shelled 0.00% 0.00% 2008 1110 Peanut butter 12.80% 12.00% 2008 1191 Groundnuts, prepared or preserved, in immediate packings of a net content of > 1 kg 11.20% 10.00% 2008 1196 Groundnuts, roasted, in immediate packings of a net content <= 1 kg 12.00% 12.00% 2008 1198 Groundnuts, prepared or preserved, in immediate packings of a content of <= 1 kg 12.80% 12.00% 2008 1993 Roasted almonds and pistachios, in immediate packings of a net content <= 1 kg 10.20% 10.00% 2008 9391 Cranberries, containing added sugar 17.60% 16.00%   UK Global Tariffs will not be applicable to countries with a trade agreement with the United Kingdom.   UK tariffs from 1 January 2021 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/uk-global-tariffsUkraine: Food ContaminantsThis draft establishes the maximum levels for certain contaminants in food products. However, those products that comply with the requirements that were in force before the entry into force of this Order, but do not comply with the new requirements, are allowed to be in circulation on the market until their sell-by date.   The deadline for comments is July 19, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/ukraine-food-contaminantsUkraine: Health ClaimsThis draft determines the requirements for nutrition and health claims made on food products, used in marking, presentation or advertising, intended for the final consumer of food products, produced, put into circulation, or imported (shipped) to the customs territory of Ukraine.   The deadline for comments is July 19, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/ukraine-health-claimsUSA: Coronavirus Food Assistance ProgramThe CFAP will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. The payments will be based on losses. For producers of specialty crops (including, but not limited to, almonds, pecans and walnuts):   For reductions of 5% or more in sales price between January 15 and April 15, 2020, payments will be based on the producer&#39;s sales (volume) during that timeframe multiplied by a pre-specified payment rate calculated as 80% of the given crop&#39;s mid-January to mid-April price change. For shipments that left the farm by April 15, 2020, and spoiled due to loss of marketing channels, payments will be based on the volume of shipped, spoiled crops multiplied by a pre-specified payment rate expected to represent 30% of the crop&#39;s sales value. For shipments that have not left the farm or mature crops that were unharvested between January 15 and April 15, 2020, and which have not been and will not be sold, payments will be based on the volume of unharvested and/or unshipped crops multiplied by a pre-specified payment rate expected to represent 5.875% of the crop&#39;s value.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 99. Thursday, May 21, 2020. Pages 30825-30835   If there are commodities that are not already identified with payment rates in the CFAP regulation for inclusion in CFAP, the USDA is requesting input. Comments on additional commodities can be submitted by June 22, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 100. Friday, May 22, 2020. Pages 31062-31065 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-coronavirus-food-assistance-programUSA: MRLs UpdateAmong others, the tolerance of fluridone in pistachio and the fruit, stone, group 12-12 is established at 0.1 ppm. The Regulation is effective since May 18, 2020; objections and requests must be received on or before July 17, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 96. Monday, May 18, 2020. Pages 29633-2963 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-mrls-update-40USA: Export Credit Guarantee ProgramThese credit guarantees correspond to fiscal year 2020. Further details can be found at the following link: USDA CCC GSM-102https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-export-credit-guarantee-programUSA: Pesticide PetitionsAs regards nuts and dried fruits, the Agency received a petition to establish a tolerance for residues of the fungicide, ipflufenoquin [2-[2-(7,8-difluoro-2-methylquinolin-3-yloxy)-6- fluorophenyl]propan-2-ol], in or on almonds at 0.10 ppm.   The final date for comments is June 29, 2020.   Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 104, Friday, May 29, 2020. Pages 32338-32340 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/usa-pesticide-petitions-23Vietnam: TariffsAccording to a USDA GAIN Report, on May 25, 2020, the Government of Vietnam issued the Decree 57/2020/ND-CP, which reviewed MFN tariffs on some agricultural goods.   Among other products, the tariff reductions include the following tree nuts and dried fruits:   HS Code Article description MFN Tariff until July 10, 2020 MFN Tariff from July 10, 2020 0802 1100 Almonds, in-shell 15.00% 10.00% 0802 3100 Walnuts, in shell 10.00% 8.00% 0806 2000 Grapes, dried (raisins) 13.00% 12.00%   These tariff rates will enter into force on July 10, 2020.   USDA GAIN Report: Vietnam Reduces MFN Tariff Rates on Select Agricultural Products https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/vietnam-tariffsWTO: Multi-party Interim Appeal Arbitration ArrangementThe MPIA ensures that participant WTO countries will continue to benefit from a functioning 2-step dispute settlement system in the WTO, including an independent and impartial appeal stage. Participant members are currently Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay. Additional WTO members may join MPIA at any time.   The application of MPIA to disputes arising between the participating countries started on April 30, 2020.   Multi-party interim appeal arbitration arrangement https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/wto-multi-party-interim-appeal-arbitration-arrangementEC: Meeting of the Market Access Working Group on SPS IssuesAt the SPS MAWG, information from stakeholders (Member States, EU businesses, technical experts) is gathered, shared and discussed, in order to seek solutions and ensure a coordinated approach to improve market access conditions for EU exporters.   Representatives of the European Commission (DG TRADE, DG SANTE) gave a report on some of the measures adopted by the European Union, including guidance from international organizations such as the Food Safety Authority (FSA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Plant Protection Convention, among others. Furthermore, several multilateral statements regarding COVID-19 situation, including G20 Ministerial, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressed the importance to ensure that trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain.   During the Session, different issues regarding the impact of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures on imports to third countries, especially regarding non-contact measures in border controls and the acceptance of digital certificates, among others, were discussed. Representatives of European associations addressed specific problems and concerns related to COVID-19 impact in trade to the Commissioners. The Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations-General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (COPA-COGECA) talked about transportation issues caused by COVID-19; FoodDrinkEurope explained the impact of the pandemic on the EU food and drink industry; Wine and Spirits gave an overview of the measures that have an impact on the sector; and the European Fresh Produce Association (Freshfel) explained the outputs of the impact assessment in the EU fresh fruit and vegetable sector. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/ec-meeting-of-the-market-access-working-group-on-sps-issues-1FRUCOM Working Group on Sustainability This kick-off meeting was attended by about 25 representatives from different private companies and national associations such as Almendrave (Spain), BFIDA (UK), Fruitimprese (Italy), Istanbul Exporters’ Associations (Turkey), National Dried Fruit Trade Association NDFTA (UK), NZV (Netherlands), Olam, The Nut Association TNA (UK), US Walnut Commission (USA), Waren-Verein der Hamburger Börse e.V. (Germany), Whitworths (UK), Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds (USA) and the INC, among others. The INC was represented by Dr. Ana Bermejo, INC Food Safety and Law Specialist.   Mr. Gijs Schilthujs, European Commissioner, presented the new Farm to Fork Strategy published by the European Commission (EC) on May 20, 2020. The Strategy addresses the challenges of the EU food system: healthy diets, better animal welfare, social rights of workers, food affordability, climate change, biodiversity preservation, food waste reduction, circular economy, fairer incomes for farmers and fishers, just transition, and new business and job opportunities. The EC has set a series of targets (e.g. reduction of pesticides by 50% and at least 25% of land under organic farming) which are to be achieved by 2030. He stressed that sustainable food systems present plenty of benefits and opportunities –better health and life quality, more sustainable business, and protection for future generations. “Food security and food safety are the cornerstone of our food system and will never be compromised”, he claimed. He added that the EC is working on a “sustainability labeling” but it is complex and it will take some years.   During the meeting, participants had the opportunity to share their priorities and expectations for sustainability and for the future work of this new working group. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/frucom-working-group-on-sustainabilityAustralia and New Zealand: MRLs UpdateThe Proposal M1017 (previously announced) modifies, among others, the following MRLs in Schedule 20 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code:   The MRL for Flazasulfuron in almonds at 0.01 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Imidacloprid in dates at T1 ppm is omitted. The MRL for Acephate in peanuts at 0.2 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Clofentezine in plums (including prunes) at 0.1 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Fenazaquin in dried grapes (currants, raisins and sultanas) at 0.8 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Halosulfuron-methyl in almonds at 0.05 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Sethoxydim in almonds at 0.2 ppm is inserted. The MRL for Chlorothalonil in peanuts is substituted for 0.3 ppm. The MRL for Fluopyram in peanuts is substituted for 0.2 ppm.   Approval report – Proposal M1017 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/australia-and-new-zealand-mrls-update-25Chile: Dried GrapesAmong others, the import phytosanitary requirements establish that the fruit must be free of leaves, soil and plant remains. Shipments must be sent in new (unused) packaging, labelled in accordance with current regulations and must include an official phytosanitary certificate issued by the phytosanitary authority of the country of origin, declaring that the shipment is free from Corcyra cephalonica and it has been treated against Trogoderma granarium (for countries in which the pest is present) using a methyl bromide fumigant.   Requisitos de Importación Para Frutos Desecados (Pasas) de Vitis Vinifera, Sin Escobajo Ni Pedicelo, Procedentes de Todo Origen https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/chile-dried-grapesChina: US Tariff Exclusion ProcessThe new version includes instructions on how to manage tariff exclusion applications. An unofficial translation of the revised guide has been issued by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.   As previously posted, China-based companies are eligible to apply for this tariff exclusion process, which enumerates 150 agricultural and agricultural-related goods.   The nuts and dried fruits listed in this exclusion process are the following: HS Code Product Description 0802 5100 Pistachios, in-shell   In addition, a second exclusion list was issued on May 12, 2020, without including agricultural products. However, importers are allowed to apply for a tariff exclusion for any tariff line.  https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-us-tariff-exclusion-process-2China: Contaminants in FoodThis new standard will replace the GB 2762-2017 National Standard for Food Safety Limits of Contaminants in Food. It establishes changes in the maximum limits for cadmium, lead and arsenic, among others.   The final date for comments is July 10, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-contaminants-in-foodChina: Microbiological LimitsThe National Food Safety Standard Limits of pathogenic bacteria in prepackaged food will replace the GB 29921-2013 National Food Safety Standards Limits of Pathogenic Bacteria in Food. It specifies the index, limit requirements and test methods of pathogenic microorganisms in pre-packaged food.   The National Food Safety Standard Limits of pathogenic bacteria ready-to-eat food in bulk stipulates the pathogenic microorganism index, limit requirement, sampling rule and inspection method in ready-to-eat food in bulk. This standard is applicable to all kinds of ready-to-eat food in bulk. It is not applicable to catering services and primary agricultural products that have not been processed.   The final date for comments is July 10, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-microbiological-limitsChina: Labeling RequirementsThis standard, which stipulates food labeling requirements for pre‑packaged foods, will replace the GB 7718-2011 General Standard for Food Labeling of the National Food Safety Standards.   The final date for comments is July 10, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-labeling-requirementsChina, Macao: MRLs UpdateThis regulation establishes the maximum residue limits (MRLs) of pesticides present in foodstuffs, as well as the list of pesticides exempted from MRLs, as stipulated in the annexes to the regulation. It entered into force on April 28, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-macao-mrls-updateEFSA: Ochratoxin A, Risk AssessmentIn December 2019, EFSA launched a public consultation on the Draft Scientific Opinion on the risks to public health related to the presence of ochratoxin A (OTA) in food (see previous post). The outcomes of the public consultation, can be consulted here.   The dietary OTA exposure was assessed using a total of 71,769 measurements of concentrations of OTA in foods submitted within the last 10 years (about 55% of the data came from Germany and the Netherlands). The proportion of left‐censored data (results below the limit of detection (LOD) or limit of quantification (LOQ)) was 75%.   The highest mean concentrations of OTA were recorded in the categories ‘Plant extract formula’, ‘Flavourings or essences’ (both containing liquorice extracts) and ‘Chili pepper’. The most important contributors to the chronic dietary exposure to OTA were ‘Preserved meat’, ‘Cheese’ and ‘Grains and grain‐based products’. Dried and fresh fruits such as grapes, figs and dates, as well as fruit juices and nectars, were also contributing to the exposure in some of the ‘Toddlers’ and ‘Other children’ groups, albeit, to a lesser extent than the three major categories.    The panel concluded that the uncertainty in this assessment is high and risk may be overestimated.   EFSA Scientific Opinion. Risk assessment of ochratoxin A in food. EFSA Journal 2020;18(3):6040. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/efsa-ochratoxin-a-risk-assessmentEU: Control Systems Due to COVID-19As the difficulties to perform official controls and other official activities will persist beyond 1 June 2020, the EC has decided to extend the use of electronic documentation for the performance of official controls and other official activities.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/714 of 28 May 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-control-systems-due-to-covid-19-1EU: Changes to ControlsAs previously announced, among others, the new Regulation sets the following changes: The control frequency of Ochratoxin A in dried grapes from Turkey increased from 5% to 10% in the Annex I. Dried apricots from Turkey (10% of control frequency for aflatoxins) was removed from Annex I. All entries in Annexes I and II concerning groundnuts were amended to include “groundnut flours and meals” and “oilcake and other solid residues, whether or not ground or in the form of pellets, resulting from the extraction of groundnut oil”.   This regulation entered into force on May 27, 2020.   Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/625 of 6 May 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-changes-to-controlsEU: Sustainability Farm to Fork Strategy: Ways to make food systems more sustainable. Biodiversity Strategy: Measures to protect the fragile natural resources on our planet.   The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the Green Deal. It addresses comprehensively the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognizes the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. A shift to a sustainable food system can bring environmental, health and social benefits, offer economic gains and ensure that the recovery from the crisis puts us onto a sustainable path. Objectives:   Reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030. Reduce by 50% the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030. Reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring no deterioration on soil fertility. Reduce fertilizer use by at least 20% by 2030. Reduce by 50% the sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030. Achieve 25% of total farmland under organic farming by 2030. Propose mandatory harmonized front-of-pack nutrition labeling. Develop a sustainable food labeling framework that covers the nutritional, climate, environmental and social aspects of food products. Reduce food waste across the EU by 2023.   The Biodiversity Strategy pursues the goal of protecting the fragile natural resources on our planet and restoring biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems. It will:   Establish protected areas for at least 30% of land and 30% of sea in Europe. Restore degraded ecosystems at land and sea across the whole of Europe by: Increasing organic farming and biodiversity-rich landscape features on agricultural land. Halting and reversing the decline of pollinators. Restoring at least 25,000 km of EU rivers to a free-flowing state. Reducing the use and risk of pesticides by 50% by 2030. Planting 3 billion trees by 2030.   Background:   The European Green Deal is the roadmap for making the EU&#39;s economy sustainable. The objective is making Europe climate neutral by 2050, boosting the economy through green technology, creating sustainable industry and transport, cutting pollution. Policy Areas:   Clean energy: Opportunities for alternative, cleaner sources of energy. Sustainable industry: Ways to ensure more sustainable, more environmentally-respectful production cycles. Building and renovating: The need for a cleaner construction sector. Sustainable mobility: Promoting more sustainable means of transport. Biodiversity: Measures to protect our fragile ecosystem. From Farm to Fork: Ways to ensure more sustainable food systems. Eliminating pollution: Measures to cut pollution rapidly and efficiently. Climate action: Making the EU climate neutral by 2050. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-sustainabilityEU: Organic RegulationThe application of the Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018, on organic production and labeling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007, will be postponed by one year and it shall apply from January 1, 2022, instead of January 1, 2021. To do so, the Commission will have to present a legal proposal introducing such change.   Regulation (EU) 2018/848  https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-organic-regulationEU: Perchlorate MLAs previously posted, the ML for perchlorate in fruits and vegetables is set at 0.05 mg/kg, except in cucurbitaceae and kale at 0.10 mg/kg, and leaf vegetables and herbs at 0.50 mg/kg. Nuts are excluded.   Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/685 of 20 May 2020 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-perchlorate-mlEU: Chlorate MRLsAs previously posted, the MRL of chlorate in tree nuts is set at 0.1 ppm; in apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries and peanuts at 0.05 ppm; and in dates and figs at 0.3 ppm. These MRLs are temporary and shall be reviewed not later than June 8, 2025.   This regulation shall enter into force on June 28, 2020. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-chlorate-mrlsEU: Pesticide WithdrawalsThe Drafts provide that the approval of the active substances benfluralin and benalaxyl are not renewed and, therefore, existing authorized plant protection products containing these substances will be withdrawn from the market. These decisions do not affect the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for residues of these pesticides. However, following the non-approval, separate actions may be taken on the MRLs.   The deadline for comments on benfluralin is July 5, 2020; on benalaxyl it is July 13, 2020.   Currently, the MRL for benfluralin in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is 0.02* ppm. The MRL for benalaxyl in tree nuts, apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is 0.05* ppm; and in grapes is 0.3 ppm.   *Indicates lower limit of determination.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-pesticide-withdrawals-8South Africa: Electronic CertificatesStarting in April 2020, NPPOZA introduced the use of eCertification for the issuance of phytosanitary certificates for plant and plant products in general. The phytosanitary certificate and the attachments (where applicable) will be printed on normal white A4 paper with the South Africa emblem, QR code, phytosanitary certificate number, barcode and will be signed as per ISPM1 (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures) guidelines. The features for the new phytosanitary certificate template include:   The paper format has additional security features embedded in the document that can be viewed under ultraviolet light. The certificate has two numbers; there is a barcode on the top right-hand corner, which is the document number. There is a second barcode and QR code as an added security feature. The phytosanitary certificate number appears between the QR and the bar code, this is the number to be used on any communication in relation to the phytosanitary certificate. The new phytosanitary number starts with NPPO-ZA/yyyy/mm/number. The e-phyto will only contain the new phytosanitary certificate number.   WTO Notification https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/south-africa-electronic-certificatesINC Webinar Series Connects Over 1500 Professionals from 75 Countries in the Nut and Dried Fruit IndustryJune 16, 2020. The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) launched a series of webinars bringing together over 1500 professionals from 75 countries within the nut and dried fruit industry. The expert-led webinars discussed new trends like plant-based protein, consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, crop forecasts, and product development.   As consumers become more health conscientious and include more plant-based protein, nuts and dried fruit are apt to benefit. Furthermore, despite COVID-19, many products saw increases in retail demand and the experts believe it is necessary to find new channels of consumption via product innovation.   During the webinars, experts from the most relevant producing and consuming origins around the world also discussed preliminary crop forecasts –still subject to the end of the crop year conditions– and supply expectations for the 2020/21 season.   Regarding tree nuts, with yet another annual increase of 16% compared to the previous season, the global crop is forecasted to reach around 5.4 million metric tons (kernel basis, except pistachios in-shell) in 2020/2021; representing an increment of over 730,000 MT from 2019/20. Pine nut, pistachio, almond and pecan crops are expected to be significantly higher than last year, while walnuts, cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts are forecasted at similar levels to the prior season.   Similarly, and anticipating an increment of 4.5 million MT from 2019/20, peanut production is forecasted at 46.1 million MT (in-shell basis) for this season. As for dried fruit, total production in 2020/21 is expected to reach over 3 million MT, remaining within the same levels reached in 2019/20. Download the press release.https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-webinar-series-connects-over-1500-professionals-from-75-countries-in-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industry-1INC Webinar Series Connects Over 1500 Professionals from 75 Countries in the Nut and Dried Fruit IndustryOver the course of two weeks, the webinars series successfully gathered over 1500 industry professionals from 75 different countries. The webinars, which were led by industry experts highlighted how the nut and dried fruit industry was affected by COVID-19 and provided participants with an industry outlook for the short-term and long-term as the world begins to deescalate confinement measures and return to a state of normalcy. Aside from the effects of COVID-19, one theme that was highlighted in almost every webinar was the consumer shift towards plant-based protein and in general a healthier diet. This continuing change in consumer behavior will provide the nut and dried fruit industry the opportunity to strengthen their position in the minds of health-conscious buyers and ultimately lead to the increased consumption of nuts and dried fruits. Moreover, dialogue between industry experts showed that as the industry moves forward past COVID-19, one key factor for nuts and dried fruits will be the ability to find new consumption channels via innovation and product development. However, innovation and product development were not only discussed in regards to new products altogether; the growing global interest in organic products also prompted interesting debates, and organic is viewed as another trending preference among consumers. All-in-all, the webinars demonstrated that there are ample opportunities for the entire industry to grow and increase demand.  Regarding the supply side of the industry, the webinar discussions revealed that the global tree nut crop is forecasted to experience another annual increase with a 16% rise compared to the previous season. This growth is mainly concentrated in pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, and pecans, while walnuts, cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts are projected to be at a similar level to the prior season. The forecast for peanuts also saw an increase and the crop size for dried fruits is estimated to be roughly the same as in 2019/20. If you were unable to watch the webinars live, a recording and downloadable presentation of each webinar can be found on the INC TV Channel. In conclusion, the INC would like to thank the chairs, panelists, and participants, who all made the INC Webinar Series possible and continue to support the nut and dried fruit industry. Take the Post-Webinar Survey https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-webinar-series-connects-over-1500-professionals-from-75-countries-in-the-nut-and-dried-fruit-industryJoin Us for the INC Webinar Series on Nuts and Dried Fruits June 1 - 5, 2020   Monday 1  Tuesday 2 Wednesday 3 Thursday 4 Friday 5 Almonds Walnuts Pistachios Dried Cranberries, Raisins & Prunes   Macadamias June 8 - 12, 2020   Monday 8 Tuesday 9 Wednesday 10 Thursday 11 Friday 12 Peanuts Cashews Hazelnuts  Pine Nuts   Pecans Dried Apricots, Figs & Dates     Brazil Nuts     Almonds Webinar - June 1, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Brian Ezell, Vice President, Almond Division of Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, USA.   Warren Choen, Blue Diamond Growers, USA Craig Duerr, Campos Brothers, USA Paul Thompson, Select Harvests, Australia Antonio Pont Jr., Crisol de Frutos Secos, Spain Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Walnuts Webinar - June 2, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Bill Carriere, President, Carriere Family Farms, USA.   John Aguiar, Mariani Nut Company, USA David Valenzuela, La Invernada, Chile Serkan Görgülü, Tiryaki Agro, Turkey Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]     Pistachios Webinar - June 3, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Behrooz Agah, Member of the Board of Trustees, Iran Pistachio Association, Iran.   Mike Hohmann, The Wonderful Company, USA Serkan Görgülü, Tiryaki Agro, Turkey Pino Calcagni, Besana Group, Italy Cheng Hung Kay, CHK Trading Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Dried Cranberries, Raisins, & Prunes Webinar - June 4, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Pedro Monti, Sales Manager, Prunesco, Chile.   Donn Zea, California Prune Board, USA Osman Oz, Anatolia AS and Turkish Dried Fruit Exporters Union, Turkey Simon Melik, Dried Fruit Alliance & UK National Dried Fruit Trade Association Ferdie Botha, Raisins South Africa, South Africa Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Macadamias Webinar - June 5, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Jolyon Burnett, CEO, Australian Macadamia Society, Australia.   Pieter van der Westhuizen, Macadamias South Africa Chen Yuxiu, Yunnan Macadamia Society, China José Eduardo Camargo, QueenNut Macadamia, Brazil Cheng Hung Kay, CHK Trading Co., Ltd., China-Hong Kong Duration: 45 minutes. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Peanuts Webinar - June 8, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Louise McKerchar, Vice President, European Marketing Director,  American Peanut Council, USA.   Dr. Samara Sterling, The Peanut Institute, USA Mike Davis, Olam Peanut Shelling Company, USA Alessandro Annibali, New Factor, Italy Duration: 45 minutes. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Dried Apricots, Figs, & Dates Webinar - June 8, 2020 11am EST | 5pm CET | 8:30pm IST | 11pm HKT | 1am AEST +1 Chaired by Guillaume Pagy, General Manager, Pagysa, Turkey.   Ahmed Boujbel, Boudjebel, Tunisia Ogan Ceryan, Anatolia AS, Turkey Michele Murano, Murano S.p.A., Italy Verne Powell, Great Lakes International Trading, USA Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Cashews Webinar - June 9, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Hari Nair, President, Western India Cashew Company, India.   Rahul Kamath, Bola Surendra Kamath and Sons, India Vu Thai Son, Long Son Joint Stock Company, Vietnam Marc Rosenblatt, The Richard Franco Agency, USA Jan Vincent Rieckmann, August Töpfer & Co., Germany Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Hazelnuts Webinar - June 10, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Ufuk Özongun, Board Member, Istanbul Exporters&#39; Association, Turkey.   Ilyas Edip Sevinç, Black Sea Exporters Association, Turkey Riccardo Calcagni, Besana Group, Italy Tommaso de Gregorio, Ferrero Hazelnut Company Larry George, Northwest Hazelnut Company & George Packing Company, USA Duration: 1 hour. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Pine Nuts Webinar - June 11, 2020 9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Wim Leeuwenburgh, Managing Director, Rhumveld Winter and Konijn BV, Netherlands.   Chen Ying, China Chamber of Commerce, China Dan Phipps, President and CEO, Red River Foods, USA Andrei Mikhailenko, Siberian Pine Nuts, Russia Riccardo Calcagni, Besana Group, Italy Duration: 45 minutes. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]   Brazil Nuts Webinar - June 11, 2020 11am EST | 5pm CET | 8:30pm IST | 11pm HKT | 1am AEST +1 Chaired by David Rosenblatt, President, The Richard Franco Agency, USA.   Tony Nguyen, The Kraft Heinz Company, USA Edward Danon, Voicevale, UK Enrique Nelkenbaum, Tahuamanu, Bolivia José Belicha, Caiba Ind. e Com. S/A, Brazil Duration: 45 minutes. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]    Pecans Webinar - June 12, 2020  9am EST | 3pm CET | 6:30pm IST | 9pm HKT | 11pm AEST Chaired by Jeffrey Sanfilippo, CEO, John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc, USA.   Andreas Snyman, GWK Limited, South Africa Ricardo Martínez Cobian, Pecaninis, Mexico Duration: 45 minutes. [Watch Now] [Take the Survey]  The webinars will be recorded and the INC is able to use these recordings without temporal or territorial limitations, for the promotion of the INC’s activities in internal and external media. Your data will be treated in accordance with EU GDPR. Find additional information here. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-webinar-seriesCOVID-19 Update: June 10, 2020Possibly, three of the most ambitious recovery plans were announced by China, the European Union, and India, which adopted unprecedented rescue plans. Several countries such as Poland and New Zealand lifted almost all the restrictions and limits on the number of people inside shops and restaurants. WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, highlighted the importance of food safety, especially in times of crisis, during the opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 of June 8. Dr. Tedros also stated that “the WHO works together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in ensuring all people have access to safe, nutritious food for healthy living”. OECD The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued, on June 5, the Policy Response titled Building Back Better: A Sustainable, Resilient Recovery after COVID-19. This document states that environmentally destructive investment patterns and activities must be avoided to ensure a durable and resilient economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Mitigation policies also need to trigger investment and behavioral changes that will reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase society’s resilience when they occur. The key dimensions for ‘Building Back Better’ are the need for a people-centered recovery that focuses on well-being, improves inclusiveness, and reduces inequality, as the central dimension. The remaining dimensions are (1) aligning recovery measures with long-term objectives for reducing GHG emissions, (2) strengthening resilience to the impacts of climate change, (3) integrating more ambitious policies to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and restore ecosystem services, including nature-based solutions, (4) fostering innovation that builds on enduring behavior changes, and (5) improving resilience of supply chains, through increased adherence to circular economy principles. IMF In the International Monetary Fund (IMF) press briefing of June 4, Mr. Gerry Rice, Director of Communications, stated that the IMF recently doubled access to emergency facilities, providing about $100 billion in financing. Among the measures implemented by the IMF, the Debt Suspension Initiative provided debt suspensions for the 35 countries, which have made formal requests, out of 73 eligible low-income countries. Mr. Rice also said: “We have provided immediate debt relief to 27 of our poorest member countries. In addition, we&#39;ve established a new Short-Term Liquidity Line to further strengthen the global financial safety net, and of course, we&#39;ve been leveraging our lending toolkit as I mentioned”. According to a post on the IMF Blog, most of the vulnerable countries are located in sub-Saharan Africa. Food security in these countries is under threat, as the ability of many Africans to access sufficient, safe, and nutritious food has been disrupted by natural disasters and epidemics. In addition to this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in some Eastern African countries, over 70% of the population has problems accessing food. In order to reduce risks to food security, countries need to prioritize policies as part of fiscal stimulus packages to counter the pandemic, such as increasing agricultural output and strengthening the ability of households to withstand shock. These measures would have the added benefit of reducing inequalities while boosting economic growth and jobs. China On May 28, China issued a 4 trillion yuan ($559 billion) rescue package to save jobs and livelihoods, the largest economic rescue plan in its history, according to South China Morning Post. This rescue plan consists of combined cuts in business costs, tax exemptions, lower bank interest rates, waived contributions to social welfare funds, as well as reduced prices for utilities, among other measures. European Union On May 27, the European Commission (EC) presented a major recovery plan to face the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, called Next Generation EU. This plan consists of extraordinary funding of €750 billion to be invested across three pillars: a new recovery and resilience facility of €560 billion which will be allocated to Member States with a mix of loans and grants (45/55%); a new Solvency Support Instrument with a budget to support private companies; and a third pillar, called ‘Addressing the lessons of the crisis’, that includes a new health program, EU4Health, to strengthen health security and prepare for future health crises. In addition to this, on June 8, the EU Council approved the ‘Team Europe’ global response to COVID-19, which mobilized almost €36 billion to address the devastating effects of the pandemic to the EU partner countries which are most in need. Some of these countries are located in North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Regarding official controls, the EC published the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/714 of 28 May 2020, which extends the use of electronic documentation for the performance of official controls and other official activities, among other measures. The current measures, which were expected to expire on June 1, have been extended until August 1. The European Council President and the Japanese Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting on May 26. They recognized that global solidarity, cooperation, and effective multilateralism are required to defeat the virus as well as to ensure economic recovery. They also confirmed that both parties are applying measures to mitigate the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. The commitment to continue tackling global challenges together based upon the close and strong Japan-EU relations was reaffirmed.   Czech Republic According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the tourism and hospitality industries have been significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19 restriction measures in both the near and the long term. Despite the policies for the recovery of these sectors implemented by the government, many small and medium-size companies may go out of business. First estimations are more than $3.4 billion loss in the tourism and food service sectors due to the pandemic restrictions. The state of emergency was declared on March 12 and ended on May 24. The impact of the state of emergency restrictions on tourism and food service is the closure of 75% of restaurants for 72 days (from March 14 to May 24), 95% of hotels closed, and all congresses, commercial, sport, cultural and social events canceled, among others. France The Association Nationale des Industries Alimentaires (ANIA) recently reported a 22% drop in turnover in the French food industry. In addition to this, more than 70% of companies reported a significant decrease in turnover during the COVID-19 confinement period compared to the usual activity. Italy Italy reopened its borders on June 3, and cancelled the 14-day mandatory quarantine to EU citizens. In addition to this, movement across Italian regions is also allowed. Bars, restaurants, stores and most of the monuments have reopened, followed from June 15 by movie theaters and show venues. Spain Spain is progressively de-escalating COVID-19 mitigation measures, which are expected to end, in most regions, by June 21 –the same day that the state of alarm is expected to stop. However, according to a draft decree, face masks will still be mandatory after the de-escalation process and until the government declares the coronavirus crisis to be completely over. Amid the de-escalation process, the Spanish Prime Minister announced an unprecedented effort to supply the country’s regions with a €16 billion fund to be spent on health and education in the recovery of the COVID-19 crisis. Another extraordinary measure recently announced is the guaranteed minimum income scheme, which will reach 255,000 people who lost incomes during the pandemic. India The Government of India announced a COVID-19 economic relief package of INR 20 trillion ($263 billion) for self-reliant India food and agriculture items, according to a recent USDA GAIN Report. This package is equivalent to almost 10% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD) and includes long-term measures to address some critical infrastructure gaps and strengthen credit supplies, among other policy reforms to help Indian farmers. According to the latest Indian Port Situation Update Report, truck movement and dry cargo operations are slow at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). Tuticorin, Chennai, Mangalore and Cochin ports report slow truck movement because of lack of drivers or shortage of labor. Some customs officials in Mumbai and Kolkata ports have been reported positive for COVID-19, and therefore, port capacity may be lower. Regarding food and retail, the USDA GAIN Report issued on June 1 states that, in Mumbai, a growing number of shop owners are shutting down operations and staying home or returning to their native states. These shops are finding it increasingly difficult to operate due to the exodus of laborers and rising financial losses. For many of these shop owners, continued lockdown extensions are making their businesses unviable and they feel that returning to their native homes is a safer option. Japan According to a USDA GAIN Report published on June 1, hotel, restaurant, and institutional sales fell to unprecedented lows in April. The main reasons for this decrease in sales are that consumers stayed at home and tourism halted during the state of emergency, which ended on May 25. However, supermarket sales were superior compared to a regular month. South Africa South Africa entered into level 3 lockdown on June 1, allowing most people to return to work, the opening of restaurants for delivery of food, and the allowance of inter-provincial travel for workers, among other de-escalation measures. Despite the relaxing of lockdown measures, delays at Cape Town’s harbor have been recently reported, as workers are being sent home. A recent surge in COVID-19 cases caused delays as well as a decrease in container terminal operation, which on May 4, ran at 40% of capacity. According to a USDA GAIN Report, the South African Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will provide funding for small and communal farmers. The total funding is R1.2 billion ($ 64 million) and a part of it will go towards vouchers for inputs in priority sectors, such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Taiwan The overall agricultural imports to Taiwan in 2020 may dampen because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, stated a recent USDA GAIN Report. However, “Taiwan will remain one of the most reliable export destinations for U.S. food processing ingredients”. According to the USDA, products with significant sales potential include tree nuts and dried fruits. United States The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued detailed Guidelines for the phased reopening of catering establishments. This document briefly summarizes CDC’s initiatives, activities, and tools in support of the Whole-of-Government response to COVID-19. Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revised downwards its export and import forecast for the 2020 financial year. According to a report released by the Economic Research Service and Foreign Agricultural Service, the projected agricultural exports decreased $3.0 billion and imports are projected $2.3 billion below the February forecast. The USDA issued the first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Payments on June 4. The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) approved more than $545 million in payments to producers who have applied for this program. FSA began taking applications May 26, and the agency has received over 86,000 applications. In the first six days of the application period, FSA already made payments to more than 35,000 producers.  The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service postponed its scheduled 2020 trade missions to North Africa, Philippines, Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom due to continued health concerns and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mission to Spain and Portugal was originally scheduled for June 8-11 and the UK mission for September 14-17.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-june-10-2020COVID-19 Update: May 28, 2020The phased reopening of businesses in different countries is significant, as Poland reopened restaurants on May 18, Spain will allow tourists on July 1, Italy is easing restrictions, Greece opened its monuments, and South Africa is expected to enter to phase 3 on June 1, among other countries which are de-escalating restrictions. However, some countries, such as China and Singapore, have imposed new lockdowns in response to the rise of recent cases.  WHO The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a landmark resolution for a global commitment to a COVID-19 response, co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, and adopted by consensus during the 73rd World Health Assembly of May 19. This resolution calls for the intensification of efforts to control the pandemic, and for equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the pandemic. In his closing remarks, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, said “COVID-19 has robbed us of people we love. It’s robbed us of lives and livelihoods; it’s shaken the foundations of our world; it threatens to tear at the fabric of international cooperation. But it’s also reminded us that for all our differences, we are one human race, and we are stronger together.” FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) issued the May update of the report “Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 in food crises”, stating that $360 million are needed to avert rising hunger. Because of the pandemic, food access and food availability could emerge as a serious concern, in both rural and urban areas. As the situation evolves, the risk of famine in some countries becomes a real concern. Therefore, in order to safeguard livelihood and increase access to food, anticipatory actions are urgently needed to prevent new or worsening food crises.   FAO will focus on four activities at the global, regional and country level, in order to ensure critical assistance to address the non-health impacts of COVID-19, (1) including a global data facility to support data collection and analysis, (2) stabilizing incomes and access to food as well as preserving ongoing livelihood and food production assistance, (3) ensuring continuity of the food supply chain, as well as (4) ensuring people along the food supply chain are not at risk of COVID-19 transmission. WTO On May 14, the Word Trade Organization (WTO) published a statement highlighting the importance of Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMES) in economies at all levels of development. To address the global crisis, a coordinated global response is required in order to stabilize economies and help MSMEs affected during the COVID-19 outbreak. Several WTO members addressed the challenges faced by workers and businesses, and the WTO will continue to monitor MSME-related developments and take further action if necessary, to help international trade and promote the stability of supply chains. European Union  The EU adopted temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) to help workers keep their positions during the pandemic. The SURE scheme can provide loans of up to €100 billion under favorable terms to Member States in order to help the sudden and severe increases of national public expenditure.   On May 14, the second G20 Extraordinary Trade and Investment Ministers Meeting on COVID-19 took place. The necessity for a coordinated action among countries and regions for a coherent and lasting exit from the COVID-19 pandemic was noted by the Commissioner Phil Hogan. As a guide for a collective response, there are three issues to have in consideration: (1) the importance of affordable and reliable access to healthcare products, including tariff relief for COVID-19 related products, (2) enhance supply chains in different sectors, and (3) the urgent need for international rules on e-commerce at WTO level.   In the Eurogroup videoconference, held on May 15, Mr. Mário Centeno, president of the Eurogroup, summarized the EU three safety nets: (1) the support by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to EU Member States; (2) the SURE program for workers (described above); and (3) the European Investment Bank (EIB) Pan-European Guarantee. The Eurogroup also agreed on some key features of the Recovery Fund, as it must be temporary, targeted, commensurate with the extraordinary costs of the COVID-19 outbreak, and must ensure solidarity with the most affected Member States.   On May 15, the EU issued a guidance for the progressive resumption of tourism services and for health protocols in hospitality establishments to be followed when the restrictions on travel-related activities will be progressively lifted. The principles for the safe and gradual restoration of tourism activities that EU Member States need to follow include the need of low COVID-19 incidence, sufficient health system capacity, robust surveillance, testing capacity, contact tracing, coordination, and effective communication mechanisms.   In addition, the EU also published a guidelines on the progressive restoration of transport services and connectivity, due to the fact that the measures to contain the outbreak resulted in a dramatic reduction in transport activity. However, freight flows have been less affected than passenger transport. Furthermore, the EU commission issued a communication towards a phased and coordinated approach for restoring freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls, as eliminating the restrictions is essential for economic recovery.   The EU Parliament and the Council adopted, on May 18, the proposal of a €3 billion assistance package to support the neighboring countries Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Jordan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Tunisia and Ukraine to cover their immediate financing needs which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Together with the support from the International Monetary Fund, the funds will help enhance stability and to allow resources to be allocated towards protecting citizens and to mitigating the negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.   On May 20, the EU adopted COVID-19 transport measures, including temporary flexibility for licenses and port services, to help companies and authorities cope with the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.   On May 25, the EU Council adopted temporary relief measures for aviation and railways, in order to support airlines and airports amid the sharp drop in air traffic due to the pandemic. An extension to the transposition deadline for rail safety and interoperability directives of the fourth railway passage was adopted, with the aim of giving rail industry and authorities flexibility and legal certainty under the current circumstances. Austria  All restaurants in Austria have been closed since March 17 due to the COVID-19. This closure has severely impacted businesses despite the stay-at-home measures gradually being lifted. The government issued a €500 million aid package to gastronomy businesses to boost consumption, according to the USDA GAIN Report issued on May 15.   The Government of Austria also offered aid to the agriculture sector, in order to mitigate its financial losses, including a hardship fund, Corona aid fund and guarantees for agriculture and forestry, among other measures highlighted in the USDA GAIN Report issued on May 13. Germany Businesses are facing difficulties in order to adapt to different measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Many German restaurants closed during the lockdown, and some others adopted new strategies which are summarized in a recent USDA GAIN Report. It is expected that VAT on food items will decrease from 19% to 7%, as well as other tax cuts for restaurants until June 2021.   Germany adopted some measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the agri-food industry. Emergency aid for small enterprises and self-employed, suspension to file for insolvency until September 30, and a credit guarantee program, are some of the measures applied. Italy  Italy announced that borders will reopen for EU tourists in early June, according to Euroactiv. The government seeks to restart economic activity, as well as tourism and hospitality, while applying necessary containment measures to avoid a second outbreak of the disease. Spain Despite lockdown measures are being relaxed in several Spanish provinces, there is a 14 day quarantine for international travelers entering into Spain until July 1. However, the Spanish government proposed the opening of travel routes before July 1 between the EU regions that have controlled the spread of the COVID-19, consequently, EU tourists might be able to travel to certain areas in Spain.   The state of alarm in Spain to combat the spread of the COVID-19 was implemented on March 14, and it has been extended 5 times since then, until June 7. A sixth 15-day extension may be agreed in the coming days, although it would not be applicable to all of the country, as certain regions might lift the alarm state and most of the restrictions.   From May 21, the use of face masks in closed and open public spaces is mandatory in Spain, in cases where it is not possible to maintain an interpersonal distance of two meters. The use of face masks has been compulsory in public transportation since May 4. The Netherlands  The Government has issued several measures, such as grants, credits or guarantees, in order to help companies. Regarding financial aid, employers with more than 20% turnover loss can apply for the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment to receive up to 90% compensation of employees’ wages. Affected entrepreneurs that closed their company, or that face restrictions of meetings or traveling, are able to request a reimbursement of €4,000.   According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, the overall food retail sales have increased by 9% since the COVID-19 outbreak –consumers are increasingly buying more food in the supermarkets, or ordering food online instead of eating out. Australia  The Queensland Government published its staged approach to the restart of freedom to travel, participate in activities and gatherings. The Economic Recovery Strategy includes the guiding principles to create and maintain jobs, such as building a more resilient and stronger economy, investing in productive infrastructure, and creating a confidence environment for business and investment.   The Roadmap to easing restrictions is gradual and provides sensible steps to a COVID-19 recovery with the aim to reconnect communities and keep the economy moving, by supporting business, industries and jobs.   The New South Wales Government is granting a pesticide training exemption since, in general, training and refresher courses are unavailable due to COVID-19 social distancing rules. Canada  Canada provided pandemic support to the agri-food sector, including an emergency processing fund for food processors implementing health controls to protect plans workers, a disaster relief, and a surplus food purchase program to redistribute food surplus to food banks. China  On May 20, during a meeting of the central leading group on responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, China called for stronger international cooperation on the pandemic response, and emphasized the importance of epidemic control and containment practices on business reopening, to accelerate consumption and production.   The President Xi Jinping statement, at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly of the WHO, stressed that economic and social development must be restored, following the WHO recommendations to contain the spread of the virus during the reopening of businesses and schools. The president also stressed the importance of strengthening international cooperation and solidarity, as well as ensuring global public health. Israel  Israel is gradually lifting restrictions and reopening businesses, despite profit losses for restaurants due to the inability to utilize full seating options, and the customer’s desire to limit social contact. As a consequence, the trend of home cooking is likely to increase. The COVID-19 effect on the food and agriculture sector, such as the impacts on supply, demand, and stocks, among others, are highlighted in the USDA GAIN Report issued on May 18. Hong Kong  The supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 affected food imports in Hong Kong as well as the availability and prices of food products. Although Hong Kong is dependent on imports, it has been able to receive supplies from China mainland, despite global logistics disruption and reduction of international flights. These effects of the pandemic among others, are summarized in a recent USDA GAIN Report. India  The nationwide lockdown to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in India is extended until May 31.   According to the last Port Situation Update in India (see USDA GAIN Report), truck freight rates have increased by 15-20% due to the severe shortage of drivers in the port of Mumbai. According to local reports, workers at Mundra and Kandla ports are increasingly desperate to return to their native homes. As a result, employers are finding it increasingly more difficult to maintain operations. In anticipation of the landfall of Cyclone Amphan, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) suspended its operations on May 19 until May 22, to avoid any potential damage.   The previous Weekly Port Situation Update stated that container freight stations in Mumbai were considering to reduce up to 50% the rent to importers who have to collect cargo during the first half of April, due to the delays caused by the lockdown. According to local reports, cargo volumes processed in India’s 12 state-owned major ports fell 21% in April 2020. Some ports such as Tuticorin, Kandra, Chennai and Kolkata reported greater losses in cargo volumes, representing 26%, 23%, 38% and 26% respectively. The lack of truck drivers and movement restrictions led to a significant rise in  rail transport, especially in the port of Mundra.   Regarding food and retail, according to the USDA GAIN Report published on May 22, a major wholesale market in Mumbai will begin delivering directly to customers via online orders. In Ahmedabad, after an eight-day ban on the sale of groceries that ended on May 15, residents rushed to local produce markets and grocery shops.   The previous Weekly Food Retail Update stated that COVID-19 detections have led to multiple market closures and consequent supply disruptions in Mumbai and Chennai. In Kolkata, according to local reports, grocery prices increased for the third time in the last six weeks. Kazakhstan  Food products are subject to a reduced VAT (8% from 12%) and certain customs duties are eliminated until October 2020, according to the USDA GAIN Report issued on May 15. Travel and quarantine restrictions are not applicable to food suppliers. However, logistical delays have been reported at the main border crossings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, without a significant impact on food availability. South Africa  The South African economy is slowly emerging from a strict lockdown as the country moves to alert level 3 on June 1, allowing the reopening of schools. In order to help the tourism sector, which is the largest source of employment in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa held a virtual engagement with stakeholders in the tourism sector, on May 22, and instituted a Tourism Relief Fund to assist small, micro and medium-sized companies affected by lockdowns and restrictions of movement. These measures are being adopted amid a raise of COVID-19 cases as well as different regional peaks of the disease. Thailand A recent USDA GAIN Report assessed the impact of COVID-19 on the Thai economy. The report stated that despite the outbreak is under control, the economy is moving towards a recession as businesses lost revenue and households lost income, particularly in tourism and export sectors. The Thai government expects that the economic impact may be worse in the second quarter of 2020, as lockdown enforcement was extended until the end of May. In order to mitigate these impacts, the government adopted relief measures, such as financial assistance to support vulnerable households and businesses, as well as a $15.5 billion soft load to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). United States On May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of direct assistance to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19, with a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined.   The Food Assistance Program provides financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who suffered a 5% or greater price decline due to COVID-19, and face additional marketing costs due to disruptions to shipping partners, lower demand, surplus production, among other issues.   For specialty crop producers, the total payment will be based on the total volume sold between January 15 and April 15, the volume of production shipped but unpaid, and the number of acres for which harvested production was not sold, because it did not leave the farm, was destroyed, or was not harvested during the same period. Specialty crops include almonds, pecans and walnuts, among others. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date. The rule was implemented on May 21.   Producers can apply for assistance from May 26, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Further details and application forms can be found here. In addition to these direct payments, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program delivers meal boxes to US farmers in need.   The USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthen the US food supply chain protections during the COVID-19, through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two institutions to help to prevent interruptions at FDA regulated food facilities, including fruit and vegetable processing industries.   Besides, the FDA extended the application period for its Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) to July 31, due to the public health emergency and travel restrictions and advisories. This program is voluntary, fee-based, and provides participating importers of expedited review and import entry for humans and animal foods into the US. Vietnam  The effects of the COVID-19 are visible in agricultural trade, consumer demand and prices, as reported in the USDA GAIN Report issued on May 15. The economy started its recovery after eliminating the maximum social distancing measures on April 23 in certain areas, and schools and non-essential businesses began to reopen. The Government approved a $3 billion package in order to stimulate the economy, including cash payments, and interest-free loans to businesses.     The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-may-28-2020Meet the INC Webinar ChairsAlmonds Webinar Brian Ezell Vice President, Almond Division of Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, USA   Brian Ezell is the Vice President of the Almond Division of Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, LLC. since 2001, and has been employed by the Wonderful Agribusiness Group for over 30 years.   Brian is responsible for the development and execution of the sales and marketing activities of the Almond Division in addition to the over-sight of Almond Processing Strategic Operations. He is also the main interface between Wonderful Orchards (Farming Division) and Plant Operations to ensure that the activities of these areas align with the sales objectives in terms of supply, product quality, and market conditions. Brian currently serves as Chairman of the Global Marketing Committee of the Almond Board of California, is the Vice Chairman of the California Almond Export Association, and also represents Wonderful on the Board of the Peanut & Tree Nut Processors Association.  Walnuts Webinar Bill Carriere President & CEO, Carriere Family Farms Bill Carriere is a fourth-generation farmer who grew up on the family farm in Glenn, CA. After attending the University of California, Davis, and earning a B.S. in Agricultural Economics, Bill returned to work on the family farm.  He started work as a farm laborer, ranch manager, controller, and now to President and CEO, Bill has been working to continue to grow and diversify the family-owned and run farming operation. Carriere Family Farms grows walnuts, almonds, rice, and oil olives as well as operating two walnut hulling and drying facilities, a custom farming operation, and a walnut processing plant which processes and markets walnuts for 85 local growers as well as their own. Bill is a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program, a Glenn County Planning Commissioner, a member of the California Walnut Board and Commission, and Secretary of the Enloe Hospital Board of Trustees.    Pistachios Webinar  Behrooz Agah Member of the Board of Trustees, Iran Pistachio Association, Iran    Behrooz Agah is the grandson of the originator of the modern international pistachio industry. His family’s involvement with pistachios started about a century ago, when his late grandfather, Gholam Reza Agah, started the first mechanized pistachio farm in the early 1920s in Iran. Behrooz is a third generation pistachio farmer/trader. He currently leads the Agah Group, which operates 4,000 hectares of family farms, as well as Arian Milan, an export company, Negin Sayareh Sabz, a pistachio processing company plus a GPPK (Green Peeled Pistachio Kernel) production operation. The Agah Group produces and exports low Aflatoxin risk and low pesticide residue risk pistachios to customers worldwide. Behrooz is a founding member of the Iran Pistachio Association (IPA). He has been a member of IPA’s Board of Trustees for 13 years. He is the permanent representative/speaker of IPA at the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC).  Established in 2007, IPA is a non-profit private organization representing various sectors of the Iranian pistachio industry (growers, exporters, processors, and service providers). IPA has provided regular monthly information, data and statistics regarding Iran’s pistachio industry and has been a voice for this industry in many international venues since 2010. Dried Cranberries, Raisins, & Prunes Webinar Pedro Monti Sales Manager, Prunesco, Chile Pedro Monti has been part of Prunesco as Commercial Manager for 12 years. He oversees the sales to all the world and directly manages the markets of Northern & Central Europe. Prunesco was founded in 1941 by a group of prune growers seeking better conditions to export their fruits. Today, the company exports to over 50 countries around the world and includes 15 retail chains and some of the world&#39;s most important repackers and industries. Among the product portfolio, there are pitted & unpitted prunes, concentrated prune juice, unsorbated prunes for retail and wholesale, prune puree, and starting this season organic tenderized prunes.   Before joining Prunesco, Pedro worked in other industries such as Gaming & Lottery and Telecommunications applied to the traffic and parking control. He has an MBA Graduate from Universidad Catolica de Chile and a Commercial Engineer degree from Universidad de Los Andes in Santiago. Macadamia Webinar Jolyon Burnett CEO, Australian Macadamia Society, Australia Jolyon is the CEO of the Australian Macadamia Society, a role he has held since August 2008, and director of the Australian Nut Industry Council, which represents 7 tree nut crops grown in Australia.   The AMS provides leadership and advocacy for an industry worth $300 million at farm gate and $270 million in annual export earnings. The AMS manages the Australian macadamia industry global marketing program and supports industry development and growth.   Jolyon has worked in Australian horticulture for the last 40 years during which time he has been the CEO of Irrigation Australia Limited, the CEO of Nursery & Garden Industry Australia, a Director of the Horticulture Australia Council, a member of the Australian Government National Water Commission Advisory Council, a member of the National Working Party on Pesticide Application and a participant in the Tropical Horticulture working group. Peanuts Webinar Louise McKerchar Vice-President & European Marketing Director, American Peanut Council, USA Louise joined the American Peanut Council (APC) in 1986 and has been in the peanut industry for over 30 years. She has the responsibility of running the Council’s European office based in the UK and oversees the Council’s activities in Europe. During her time at APC, Louise has worked on public relations campaigns and marketing promotions as well as running exhibition booths at leading trade shows across Europe. Her attention is now mainly focused on technical issues and monitoring European regulatory changes. Louise also organises the biennial International Peanut Forum, an event for peanut suppliers, buyers, traders, manufacturers, and service providers from around the globe.   Louise currently sits on the Board of Directors of The Nut Association in the UK and participates in ESA working groups. Dried Apricots, Figs, & Dates Webinar Guillaume Pagy General Manager, Pagysa, Turkey Born in İzmir, Guillaume studied and worked in France, where he became a Business Graduate from ESC La Rochelle in 1991. He continued his studies and career in tandem in other European countries until 1994.   He returned to Turkey in 1995 after backpacking through South America for a year, joined the family company, and began his path to becoming Managing Director of Pagysa and Nova Fruits Int’l by working in the processing plant.   The experience he accumulated while overseas continues to be a key point in the companies’ success in their fields. Under his guidance as MD, both companies are leading processors, packers and exporters of dried fruits, supplying both the food industry and retailers, tactfully bridging the gap between producer and consumer. Cashews Webinar  Hari Nair President, Western India Cashew Company (WIC), India Hari Nair chaired the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (2011-2013) and contributed to the creation of the Global Cashew Council, of which he has recently become the Chairman. He organized the CEPCI-funded study on the effect of cashews on diabetics by the Madras Diabetic Research Foundation, India along with scientists from Spain and Harvard, USA (Journal of Nutrition, 2018), and helped develop the UNECE Standard for Cashew Kernels as rapporteur. Under his stewardship, WIC implemented the first validated microbiological pasteurization program for nuts in Asia in 2009, to supply safe nut-ingredients for chocolate, ice-cream, etc. WIC has won awards from the Ministry of Commerce for being India’s biggest exporter of cashews in consumer packs. WIC also developed the flexi-pouch bulk-pack in 1999, which is now the cashew industry standard. Hari has also contributed to the African Cashew Alliance and USAID initiatives for the cashew sector in Africa. Hazelnuts Webinar Ufuk Özongun Board Member, Istanbul Exporters&#39; Association, Turkey Ufuk Özongun is member of the Board of the Istanbul Hazelnut Exporters Association. He studied Business Administration at the Göttingen University in Germany and has been in the hazelnut business since 1986. In 1998 he was the co-founder of the Progida hazelnut processing company. In 2011 Progida was acquired from Olam International Ltd. He was Country Head for Turkey and with Olam the company has increased its hazelnut ingredients business significantly.   Pine Nuts Webinar Wim Leeuwenburgh Managing Director, Rhumveld Winter and Konijn BV, Netherlands Wim Leeuwenburgh is Managing Director of Rhumveld Winter and Konijn BV. He studied business economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and worked for most of his career within the nuts and dried fruit industry.   He was employed by Rhumveld Winter and Konijn BV as a trader and now is responsible for all their commercial activities.   During his time in the industry, he has served for six years as a Board Member of the Dutch Dried Fruit Association and is currently the Chairman of the FRUCOM Pinenut Expert working group.   Brazil Nuts Webinar  David Rosenblatt President, The Richard Franco Agency, USA   David Rosenblatt has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University, where he was inducted into Civil Engineering honor society Chi Epsilon in 1971.   While working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he studied at the Georgia Tech graduate school of Industrial Management and earned his MBA from Georgia State University in 1974. Upon graduation, he worked in the financial and business side of Law Engineering Testing Company before starting a property management company on his own in 1977.   After the untimely death of his father-in-law, Richard Franco, he moved to the New York area and began his now 40-year tenure at the Richard Franco Agency.   Pecans Webinar Jeffrey Sanfilippo Chairman & CEO, John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., USA Jeffrey Sanfilippo is Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., an Elgin, IL USA based public company.   Mr. Sanfilippo has an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School and he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Southern California where he earned a BA in Economics & International Relations.     John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. is a public company trading on NASDAQ with revenues of $880 million; employing 1,600 people across 5 manufacturing facilities in California, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Headquarters in Elgin, Illinois. Major snack and recipe nut brands include Fisher, Orchard Valley Harvest and Squirrel. Mr. Sanfilippo has been employed by JBSS since 1991 and in November 2006 was named Chief Executive Officer.    Don&#39;t forget to Join Us for the INC Webinar Series on Nuts and Dried Fruits and register for the webinars!   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/meet-the-inc-webinar-chairsCOVID-19 Update: May 14, 2020The efforts made by different governments, communities, companies, and people are significant to mitigate the effects of the disease. Several countries such as France, Germany, Spain, or Poland are reopening stores and other businesses, and some others such as Australia or Norway may end lockdowns and other restrictive measures to return to the routine. However, although governments are lifting or easing some measures, the risk of infection is still present. “The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully, and in a phased approach”, stated Mr. Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director-General. Consequently, the World Health Organization outlined the three criteria that countries need to consider before lifting stay at home orders and other restrictions: (1) Is the epidemic under control? (2) Is the healthcare system able to cope with a resurgence of cases? (3) Is the public health surveillance system able to detect and manage the cases and their contacts? FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has recently published a Policy Brief which analyzes pandemic-driven recession’s thread to global hunger levels. It recommends to stimulate the economy in all countries in order to keep the food supply chains functioning, while also protecting access to locally-, regionally- and globally-produced food. Stimulus measures that tackle the current menace to food access should emphasize efforts to build resilience into food systems to safeguard them against future economic slowdowns and downturns. OECD On April 29, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report on the issues and policy responses in the food and agriculture sector. This report identifies the impacts on the world economy and the global food and agriculture sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, both directly and through the measures that contain the spread of the disease. Some of these impacts may be damaged food security, nutrition and livelihoods of farmers and other workers along the supply chain. The OECD stresses the need of governmental measures to manage multiple demands, such as responding to the health crisis, its economic consequences, and ensuring the smooth functioning of the food system. However, these challenges may be seen as an opportunity to accelerate necessary transformation in the food and agriculture sector, enhancing its resilience, sustainability and productivity.   Another OECD report highlights COVID-19 regional socio-economic implications and policy priorities in emerging Asia. It states that economic growth is facing significant pressure and the impact on firms, workers and households is profound.  The importance of digitalization in order to improve countries’ ability to absorb shocks linked to crises is emphasized. WTO & IMF The World Tarde Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for lifting trade restrictions on food and medical supplies. Both organizations discourage the application of counterproductive export restrictions, which taken collectively, could lead to disrupted supply chains or depressed production with the most serious effects on the most vulnerable countries.   IMF is promoting transparent and accountable use of COVID-19 financial assistance, working closely with its members sustaining the fight against corruption to ensure the correct use of resources to protect lives and livelihoods. European Union  The EU informed the WTO on a new set of COVID-19 measures, following the notification of a first round of measures on April 7. This second set includes policies to address the economic consequences of the pandemic, such as legislation changes regarding export subject to authorization or the temporary framework for state aid measures, among others. In addition to this, the EU is committed to continue to make sure that any pandemic-related trade measures are targeted, proportionate, temporary, transparent and consistent with the commitments made by the G20 group.   Due to the new pandemic scenario, some questions have emerged regarding the application of provisions related to the customs decision-making process, procedures and formalities. For these reasons, the EU Council issued the Guide on Customs Issues related to the COVID-19 emergency. The objective of this document is to offer guidance to stakeholders on practical solutions given by the current legal framework in this time of health emergency. As the situation can evolve rapidly, this guide will be updated as needed.   The EU not only applied measures to national citizens, but also issued a €3 billion assistance package to support the neighboring countries Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Jordan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Tunisia and Ukraine. This assistance will help to cover their immediate financing needs which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The funds will be available for twelve months and will be disbursed in two installments. The loans will have a maximum average maturity of 15 years and will be subject to a memorandum of understanding, to be agreed between each partner and the EC. The European Parliament and the Council need to adopt this proposal before its entry into force.   On May 8, the Eurogroup held a videoconference which was followed by a statement on the Pandemic Crisis Support, which is available to all EU Member States for amounts of 2% of the Member’s GPD to help the domestic financing of direct and indirect healthcare, cure and prevention related costs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Finland The measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in Finland had a positive effect on the infection rates, although these measures had an economic impact. According to a USDA GAIN Report, Finland is offering aid to companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including funding programs for medium-sized businesses, state guarantees for loans, subsidized public loans and public short-term export credit insurance, among others. Italy  The Italian Ministry of Agriculture issued an emergency fund of €100 million in order to aid agricultural companies with three different measures: passive interest coverage, mortgage interest coverage, and temporary suspension coverage of fishing and aquaculture activities.   A recent article published by HVS described some of the restrictions to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, stating that many activities are still forbidden, despite of the phased reopening started on May 3. It is expected that certain businesses such as retail shops, bars and restaurants will reopen between May 18 and June 1, but still subject to restrictions. The article focuses on the possible economic impact on the tourism industry, which represents approximately 13% of the country’s GDP, the challenges that may face the progressive reopening of businesses, and the possible profit losses due to national and international traveling restrictions. Spain Spain is easing lockdown measures in certain regions, allowing small stores and other businesses to operate, while some other regions still remain under stricter stay-at-home measures, according to public health criteria. However, it is expected that most of the restrictions will be lifted by the end of June. Argentina  Argentina stopped its participation in MERCOSUR negotiations due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, according to Buenos Aires Times. Consequently, Argentina will no longer be involved in the ongoing trade talks with third countries such as South Korea or India, among others. Australia  The Government of Australia launched a website which provides useful information to ensure a safe return to work. Furthermore, the Government of Queensland issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for employers of seasonal workers during COVID-19 outbreak, including mandatory health plans and general health obligations. Canada  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) offers a period of leniency for new Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) for manufactured foods, according to a recent USDA GAIN Report. The CFIA will continue to enforce food safety requirements and businesses are encouraged to be fully compliant with the SFCR requirements. However, in order to support food availability and to prevent possible business disruptions, manufactured food producers may continue to operate without an SFCR license past July 15. China  As of May 7, all the counties in China are classified as low-risk regions as announced at a press briefing by the Chinese State Council inter-agency task force, with the exception of Shulan City. However, routine control measures must remain in place to prevent a domestic resurgence of the virus, including the closure of six categories of services such as cinemas, theaters and karaoke bars, among others, as well as crowd control measures in places such as parks, guest houses or libraries. Previously, China announced tighter control at ports of entry to minimize the disease’s importation risks. India  The lockdown in India is due to end on May 17, but some restrictions may continue in certain areas. The port situation in India, according to a USDA GAIN Report published on May 8, indicates that, despite previous truck movement restrictions, drivers are gradually returning to work. However, the lack of workers and trucks together with the continued difficulties faced by drivers in crossing state borders, may slow down some operations. According to USDA-Global Agricultural Trade Atlas, cited as a source in the same report, in 2019, tree nuts represented the largest volume of imports of agricultural and related products from the US to India.   As for food retail, some cities such as Ahmedabad will be under complete lockdown for a week, beginning on May 7, and Surat, which was under complete lockdown from May 9 to May 14, among others, according to a USDA GAIN Report published on May 8. Chennai reports that food retail revenues have fallen by 30-40% due to supply chain issues, lack of labor and a fall in consumer demand. However, certain cities such as Goa report a better situation compared with the past weeks, as the Panaji municipal market complex reopened on May 7 after a six week closure. Japan  The State of Emergency in Japan was extended until May 31. On May 1, a USDA GAIN Report informed on COVID-19 Related Tax Relief for Japanese farmers, in case their incomes from sales decreased over 30% for any month between February and October 2020. The government also postponed certain national tax payments for one year together with the reduction or elimination of local tax payments. In addition, a COVID-19 Cash Allowance is also available in order to sustain businesses affected by losses related to the COVID-19 outbreak. South Africa  As of May 1, the country entered in level 4 of measures to mitigate COVID-19. This level allows certain organizations to operate as well as long distance inter-provincial transportation.   Starting in April, the National Plant Protection Organization of South Africa introduced the use of eCertification for the issuance of phytosanitary certificates for plant and plant products in general. Electronic stamps and signatures need to be used during the e-Certification process. The phytosanitary certificate contains security features such as QR code, phytosanitary certificate number and barcode. This measure was notified to the WTO on May 6, 2020. Sri Lanka  Sri Lanka temporarily suspended imports of several products, including peanuts, from April 16 to July 15, according to a USDA GAIN Report. Turkey The effects of COVID-19 on food and agriculture in Turkey were covered in a USDA GAIN Report published on May 4, including Government support and programs. The Treasury and Finance Minister announced that the payments of Treasury-backed loans to farmers due in May and June will be postponed for six months. In addition to this, an online marketplace for farmers and agri-business producers to connect with buyers was announced on April 29.   Turkey recently applied a 72-hour rule to truck drivers entering the country in order to ensure safe trade amid COVID-19 outbreak, according to Daily Sabah. This rule allows drivers to be able to deliver cargo and exit the country within 72 hours without being subject to a 14-day quarantine. The United Kingdom  On April 29, the UK and China held a meeting on cooperation in the fight against the pandemic and on the development of bilateral relations, with the aim to reach high-level bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, scientific innovation and tackling the climate change.   The agriculture and foodservice sectors in the UK are facing a challenging economic situation during the lockdown. According to a USDA GAIN Report issued on May 2, the foodservice situation in the country is difficult due to the closure of pubs, restaurants and hotels, among other hospitality businesses. However, there is a rising demand on online shopping. United States  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments during the COVID-19 Pandemic, including a checklist and an infographic designed to address key food safety practices for retail food establishments in their preparation to reopen.   In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Small Business Administration has resumed processing the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance of up to $10,000 for those small businesses, including agricultural companies and other farming and agricultural related industries, that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.    The US and the UK started the first round of negotiations for a US-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on May 5. Further rounds shall take place approximately every six weeks, and will be carried out remotely due to public health and social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both countries have already laid the groundwork for an ambitious agreement and discussed about the topics which are typically included in the FTAs.   The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued a new Guidance on Detention and Demurrage about how it will assess the reasonableness of detention and demurrage charges. Under the new interpretive rule, the movement of cargo and freight fluidity will be prioritized. In addition to this, the FMC may also consider in assessing the reasons of detention and demurrage practices factors related to content and clarity of carrier and Multimodal Transport Operation (MTO) insurance policy, and clarity of carrier and MTO detention and demurrage terminology.   According to the latest Position Report of the Almond Board of California (ABC) the salable handler shipments in April were 103.5 million pounds (46,946 MT), slightly below the previous crop year 2018/19 (same month) which were 109.3 million pounds (49,598 MT). However, despite the difficult market conditions, all regions except for Asia-Pacific are reporting year to date gains.   The information above is a review of actions the INC has compiled from government sources, international organizations and press media. This news article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/covid-19-update-may-14-2020Australia and New Zealand: MRLs UpdateThe table to section S20-3 in Schedule 20 is amended as follows:   The maximum residue limits (MRLs) for tetraniliprole in almonds at 0.05 ppm; in apricots, dried, and prunes at 3 ppm; in macadamia nuts at *0.01 ppm are inserted. The MRLs for chlorantraniliprole in almonds at 0.1 ppm; in pistachio nut and walnuts at T0.05 ppm are omitted. The MRL for chlorantraniliprole in tree nuts at 0.1 is inserted.   * indicates that the maximum residue limit is set at the limit of determination. ‘T’ indicates that the maximum residue limit is a temporary maximum residue limit.   Deadline for comments was May 5, 2020.   The amendment can be found here (pp. 20-25). https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/australia-and-new-zealand-mrls-update-24Brazil: MRLs Update The MRL for abamectina (abamectin) in grape culture is changed from 0.03 to 0.6 ppm in the modality of foliar use (application). The MRL for deltametrina (deltamethrin) in grape is included at 0.08 ppm, safety security period of 1 day.   For abacectina, the final date for comments is May 30, 2020. For deltametrina, the final date for comments is June 6, 2020.   A18 – Abamectina   D06 – Deltametrina https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/brazil-mrls-update-27Canada: MRLs UpdateAs previously notified, the PMRL for tetraniliprole in Tree nuts (crop group 14-11) is set at 0.03 ppm.   The MRL was adopted on April 19, 2020.   Health Canada Database https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/canada-mrls-update-41China: Export Tax Rebate RatesAmong others, the affected tree nuts are the following: HS Code Description Tax Rebate Rate 0801 21 00 Brazil nuts, in-shell 9% 0801 22 00 Brazil nuts, shelled 9% 0802 21 00 Almonds, shelled 9% 0802 61 90 Macadamia nuts, in-shell 9%   These measures are implemented since March 20, 2020.   Announcement on Raising the Export Tax Rebate Rate of Some Products https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-export-tax-rebate-ratesChina, Taiwan: Phytosanitary CertificatesUntil June 30, 2020, the alternative arrangements to the presentation of original veterinary or phytosanitary certificates are as follows:   Imports of goods subject to veterinary or phytosanitary inspection are allowed with a copy of original veterinary or phytosanitary certificate with import consignments in line with the following alternatives: A scanned copy of the veterinary or phytosanitary certificate shall be emailed/faxed to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) branch office in advance from the exporting country&#39;s central competent authority or representative office in the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, or our representative offices in the exporting country. If the exporting country&#39;s certificate features a QR Code or an official website which provides complete details of the cargo or electronic copy of certificate, it can be exempted from the scanned certificate, as mentioned above. Importers shall pledge to submit the original veterinary or phytosanitary certificate in a timely manner to temporarily fulfill the quarantine requirements. Once the original certificate is submitted to BAPHIQ, the import case is closed.   It was adopted on March 31, 2020.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/china-taiwan-phytosanitary-certificatesEcuador-EFTA: Trade AgreementThe negotiations began in 2012 and, on June 25, 2018, both partners signed the Inclusive Economic Association Agreement which complements the EU-Ecuador trade agreement in force since 2017.   Practically all Ecuador exports will be free of tariffs and EFTA products will be granted relief periods depending on Ecuador’s needs.   Ecuador approved the Trade Agreement with EFTA https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/ecuador-efta-trade-agreementEFSA: Cumulative Risk ReportAfter analyzing pesticide residues and consumption data of three years (2014, 2015 and 2016), the overall conclusion for both assessments is that consumer risk from dietary cumulative exposure is, with varying degrees of certainty, below the threshold that triggers regulatory action defined by risk managers at the European Commission and in EU Member States.   Currently, the risks to consumers from the presence of pesticide residues in food are estimated substance by substance. However, the impact of pesticides on human health could be greater in combination than individually. Therefore, synergistic effects of pesticides should be considered for dietary risk assessment when the appropriate methodologies are available.   More information https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/efsa-cumulative-risk-reportEFSA: Fluopyram, MRLs ReviewTo assess the occurrence of fluopyram residues, EFSA considered the conclusions derived in the framework of Commission Regulation (EU) No 188/2011, the MRLs established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as well as the import tolerances and European authorizations reported by Member States.   EFSA recommends setting a lower MRL for almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts from 0.05 ppm to 0.04 ppm, taking into account the option 1 (assuming that adequate risk mitigation measures are in place to avoid significant residues in crops grown in rotation with crops treated with fluopyram).   On the contrary, the agency proposes to raise the MRL for plums from 0.5 ppm to 0.6 ppm; for table grapes from 1.5 ppm to 2 ppm, and for cranberries from 3 ppm to 4 ppm, taking into account the option 1 and also option 2 (assuming that no risk mitigation is implemented).   Review of the existing maximum residue levels for fluopyram according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No396/2005. EFSA Journal 2020;18(4):6059 https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/efsa-fluopyram-mrls-reviewEU: Pesticide WithdrawalsThe Drafts provide that the approvals of the active substances bromoxynil and mancozeb are not renewed and, therefore, existing authorized plant protection products containing these substances will be withdrawn from the market. These decisions do not affect the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for residues of these pesticides. However, following the non-approval, separate actions may be taken on the MRLs.   The deadline for comments is June 16, 2020.   Currently, the MRLs for bromoxynil in tree nuts, apricots, plums, grapes, cranberries, dates, figs and peanuts is 0.01* ppm. The MRL for mancozeb in tree nuts, dates and figs is 0.05* ppm (except walnuts at 0.1 ppm); in apricots and plums is 0.2 ppm; in grapes and cranberries is 5 ppm, and in peanuts is 0.1* ppm.   *Indicates lower limit of determination.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-pesticide-withdrawals-7EU: Pesticides, Standing CommitteeSome of the discussions were the following:   The following draft regulations had favorable opinion: Draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the renewal of approval of the active substance metalaxyl-M, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the renewal of approval of the active substance foramsulfuron, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the approval the active substance Lavandulyl senecioate as a low-risk substance in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the non-approval of Saponaria officinalis L. roots as a basic substance in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the approval of L‑cysteine as a basic substance, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the non-approval of propolis extract as a basic substance, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation correcting Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2019/706 renewing the approval of the active substance carvone, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here).   The vote on the following draft regulations was postponed: Draft Commission Regulation (EU) modifying Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation approving the active substance sodium hydrogen carbonate as a low-risk substance in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the approval the active substances Phlebiopsis gigantea VRA 1835, VRA 1984 and FOC PG 410.3 as low-risk substances in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here). Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the approval of Milk as a basic substance, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (here).   Summary report https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/eu-pesticides-standing-committee-4Japan: Export CertificatesIn order to facilitate trade during the COVID-19 outbreak, scanned or hard copies of export certificates for animals, plants and their products to be exported to Japan are accepted.   As for plant health, the National Plant Protection Organization of the exporting country should send an email to ippc_contact@maff.go.jp with an official letter stating that the country would like to apply for the temporary measures in this document (Annex 1).   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/japan-export-certificatesJapan: MRLs UpdateAs for nuts and dried fruits, the following MRLs were proposed: The MRL for dieldrin in peanuts, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts is lowered from 0.06 ppm to 0.05 ppm; in apricot, cranberry and date from 0.05 ppm to 0.01 ppm. In addition, in grape is newly set at 0.01 ppm. The MRL for benfuracarb in peanuts is lowered from 0.3 ppm to 0.02 ppm; in apricot, cranberry, grape, date, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts from 0.5 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for carbofuran in peanuts is lowered from 0.2 ppm to 0.1 ppm; in apricot, cranberry, grape, date, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts from 0.3 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for carbosulfan in peanuts is lowered from 0.05 ppm to 0.01 ppm; in apricots, cranberry, grape, date, pecan, almond, walnut and other nuts from 0.2 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for carbaryl in peanuts is lowered from 5 ppm to 0.05 ppm; in apricot from 10 ppm to 0.01 ppm; in cranberry form 7 ppm to 5 ppm; in grape from 1.0 ppm to 0.01 ppm; and in date from 2 ppm to 0.01 ppm. The MRL for ipflufenoquin in apricot is set at 5 ppm; in grape at 6 ppm. The MRL for isofetamid in apricot is set at 3 ppm; in almonds at 0.01 ppm. In addition, in cranberry is increased from 4 to 5 ppm.   The deadline for comments is May 31, 2020 (except for ipflufenoquin and isofetamid where the final date for comments is not applicable).   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/japan-mrls-update-24Korea, Republic of: Food ProductsAmong others, the proposed amendments seek to revise and establish the maximum residue limits of pesticides in agricultural products (117 pesticides, including Iminoctadine) and to revise the General Test Methods.   The deadline for comments is June 20, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/korea-republic-of-food-products-3Switzerland: Labeling RequirementsAs a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the labeling requirements for food products are relaxed for a time limited period of six months with the aim of providing food manufacturers more flexibility. This will allow food producers to source alternative ingredients or packaging materials to substitute ingredients or materials in short supply without having to amend the packaging information.   The following conditions have to be met:   The manufacturer has to demonstrate that the supply shortage is a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The alternative ingredients used have no bearing on the relevant health information provided on the packaging (e.g. ingredients that are allergens or may cause undesired reactions). Foodstuffs produced according to this derogation have to be labeled with a red round sticker followed by an internet address where consumers can obtain information about the ingredients and packaging materials used, and how these may differ from the information contained on the packaging.   The revision entered into force on April 16, 2020.   For further information, please contact us at inc@nutfruit.org. https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/switzerland-labeling-requirementsINC Academia: Special 33% Discount and Schedule ChangesSave 33% on the Executive Program on Nuts and Dried Fruits Online Course As the world grapples with COVID-19, the INC would like to offer its support and acknowledge the struggles that come with the virus. In response, from now until June 30, the INC is offering a limited time special price of €950 to enroll in the online course for INC members. Don’t miss this chance to take part in the online course for only €950!   The online course offers an insight into the nut and dried fruit industry that is unparalleled. The course consists of 11 units (50 hours) and will give students an idea of the main aspects involved in the sector. Topics include soil and climate, varieties, nutrition facts, processing, food safety, and quality standards, industry statistics and essential strategies for successful negotiations, among other subjects.   Stay Up to Date with the New INC Academia Schedule In addition to the discount price, the INC has changed various deadlines and schedules regarding the Academia. As the INC monitors the developments of COVID-19, member safety is at the forefront of decision making.   In response, the on-site course, originally to take place in May 2020, has been moved to May 2021 and will take place in Italy. As more details are confirmed, the information will be made available. Regarding the online course, the INC has decided to extend the deadline for enrolling in the course. Initially set for April 15, 2020, the deadline to enroll is now October 31, 2020. The date to complete the online course has also been adjusted as students will now have until November 30, 2020, to finish the online material. The INC would like to remind all, that in order to attend the on-site course, the online course must be completed first. To find more information visit the INC Academia page.   https://www.nutfruit.org/consumers/news/detail/inc-academia-special-33-discount-and-schedule-changesCOVID-19 Update: April 30, 2020This report highlights some of the latest measures taken around the world. The INC will continue to monitor and provide updates. However, some countries are easing the measures in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, such as Germany, which recently opened most of the stores; China, that relaxed lockdowns in almost all regions; Italy, France and Spain, that have started to reopen stores and businesses in phases; or the Czech Republic, which announced a plan for relaxing restrictions, gradually reopening farmers markets, shops, restaurants and other services. WTO The COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue that requires a coordinated global response. In order to address the pandemic, the EU and 21 other WTO members signed a joint statement, dated April 22, pledged to ensure well-functioning of global agriculture and agri-food supply chains, and to avoid measures with potential negative impact on food security, nutrition and health. The statement also calls for any emergency measures related to agriculture and agri-food products to be proportionate, transparent, temporary and consistent with WTO rules. These actions should not distort international trade or result in unjustified trade barriers. OECD On April 21, 2020, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) declared that the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to human health. As a consequence, the vulnerability of communities to pandemics or other emergencies could be reduced by enhancing environmental health through better air quality, water and sanitation, waste management, along with efforts to safeguard biodiversity. This declaration also states that the economic impact of the pandemic is likely to affect average household incomes, increasing affordability issues. Reduced cash flows combined with pressures on municipal budgets may result in pressure on utilities’ finances. According to OECD, one of the challenges of this health crisis is “to secure revenues for utilities and to maintain capital investment and timely spending on maintenance, while guaranteeing access to households who cannot pay.” IMF On April 15, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) added a liquidity line to strengthen COVID-19 response. According to Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF, “The facility is a revolving and renewable backstop for member countries with very strong policies and fundamentals in need of short-term moderate balance of payments support. In these cases, the Short-term Liquidity Line will provide revolving access of up to 145 percent of quota. (…) The facility will fill a critical gap in the Fund’s toolkit and help to facilitate a more efficient allocation of resources.”   Another action taken by IMF and the World Bank Group is the mobilization of partners in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa to spur faster response in African countries. H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Director General of the WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Africa Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and officials of individual countries outlined their policy plans for effective use of resources, multilateral organizations including the United Nations pledged their continued support, and bilateral partners reemphasized their commitment to a debt standstill beginning May 1, 2020.   Official creditors have mobilized up to $57 billion for Africa in 2020 to provide front-line health services, support the poor and vulnerable, and keep economies afloat. Private creditor support this year could amount to an estimated $13 billion. According to IMF, the continent needs an estimated $114 billion in 2020 in its fight against the disease. United States According to BBC, the US president announced on April 16 a plan to reopen States in phases, giving guidance on reopening State economies in the coming months.   In order to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 17 that the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will spend up to $19 billion in immediate relief program to provide support to farmers and ranchers. Also, the US Government issued an Executive Order to temporarily extend certain deadlines for estimated duties, taxes and fee payments for importers suffering financial hardship as a result of the declaration of national emergency and shutdowns.   In addition to the federal measures, some States have also implemented regulations to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. For example, according to CBS News, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the signature of an executive order to help essential workers in the food supply chain, including workers in the delivery and fast-food industries, amid the coronavirus pandemic.   On the other hand, one week before the re-opening of the States as planned by the US Government, Georgia opened sit-down restaurants and other close-contact services on April 27, 2020, according to Time. China Despite the lockdown measures have relaxed during the last weeks, Beijing&#39;s Chaoyang District has been designated a high-risk area due to a recent cluster of infections.   According to the 57th Meeting of April 23 of the Beijing Leading Group on COVID-19, “Regular containment measures should be implemented in a more targeted and effective way to forestall any resurgence of infections, while advancing all-round resumption of economic activities and restoring the normal order of life and work.” The Government also announced regular controls in arrivals in Beijing and solid and rigorous control measures throughout the May 1 holiday.   In order to bolster COVID-19 preparedness, response and support of the health systems of developing countries, China decided to contribute $30 million in cash to the World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to the $20 million cash donation already made. European Union European Union leaders are negotiating an agreement on how to rebuild the economy when the pandemic subsides. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade (DG TRADE) issued a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global and EU trade. DG TRADE estimates a 9.7% decrease in global trade for 2020, a reduction of 9.2% in extra-EU27 exports of goods and services, and an 8.8% decrease in extra-EU27 imports in 2020, compared to the latest available statistics.   On April 21, the EU published a Roadmap for recovery, with a strong investment component, which sets out some important principles and defines four key areas for action, with the aim to provide a coherent and useful framework for joint action towards overcoming the crisis. The recovery plans shall be flexible, agile, inclusive and maintaining the EU set of values and rights. The document also states key areas of action to re-establish trade flows and supply routes, including a fully functioning and revitalized Single Market, an unprecedented investment in Green and Digital transitions, and a global response through multilateralism and rules-based international order.   Furthermore, the European Council adopted a second legislative act amending the rules on the use of EU structural funds. These changes allow Member States to refocus resources on crisis-related operations, giving them exceptional flexibility to transfer money between funds and between regions to meet their particular needs in mitigating the social and economic damage of the pandemic. These unprecedented measures will help alleviate the burden on national budgets by providing targeted investment in healthcare, struggling SMEs, and temporary employment schemes.   Farmers can also benefit in the form of favorable loans and guarantees of up to €200,000 to help them with liquidity or compensation for losses. The act entered into force on April 24, 2020.   In addition to this, the European Parliament and the European Council published the Regulation (EU) 2020/559 of April 23 amending Regulation (EU) No 223/2014 as regards the introduction of specific measures for addressing the outbreak of COVID-19. The objective is to make it easier for Member States, partner organizations and other parties to access the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD), in order to help deliver food aid and basic material assistance to EU citizens, as well as personal protective materials. EU-UK Negotiation Rounds The EU and the UK resumed the bilateral negotiations on the future relationship, after a six week suspension because of the COVID-19. In June 2020, the UK will have to decide on a possible extension of the transition period, which now ends on December 31, 2020. India According to a recent USDA GAIN Report, India permits paperless customs clearances through electronic documents or communications, while the national lockdown is still in force, now extended until May 3. However, a provisional rollback of the lockdown will be considered in areas where the spread of the disease has either been contained or prevented.   Guidelines on the second phase of the lockdown were published and exempted several additional activities from lockdown restrictions from April 20. The Food Safety and Standards Authority published Food Hygiene and Safety Guidelines during COVID-19 pandemic for all type of food businesses, including food service, transport and retail.   The port situation in India, according to a USDA GAIN Report published on April 24, indicates that some port operations are constrained by limited truck movement and insufficiency of road transport. However, in Mumbai, most port inspectors and customs agen