EXPORT OF BULGARIAN HONEY THREATENED BY EU BAN
The European Commission on Foods in Brussels has worned the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that the export of Bulgarian honey to EU countries' might be banned as most quantities fail to meet the union's standards. This will badly affect some 50,000 enterpreneurs who turned to that profitable occupation after Bulgaria's market liberalization. Since 1996, the EU has banned all qantities containing residues of antibiotics used for treating ill bees families as well as sugar containing honey. Brussels has sent back all Bulgarian exports containing those substances and has repeatedly warned Sofia against unfit production. With this month's final warning, the country might very soon follow the sad example of China whose export of honey was banned last year. Direct losses from such a ban are preestimated at BGN20MN, the Association of Honey Processors and Exporters and the Bulgarian Union of Bee-Keepers pointed out at a press conference on September 11. Bulgaria exported 3,281 t of honey last year, down from 5,200 t in 2000. In 2001 the European Union agreed a duty-free quota of 3,000 t, which Bulgaria would hardly fulfill this year. Bulgaria lacks the expansive lab equipment that could test set-for-export production for antibiotics and sugar. After years of delay, the branch organisations' leaders now call on the State to promptly re-equip the labs. Otherwise Bulgaria's honey will lose its biggest market while being unable to sell more in the Arab countries where the control for antibiotics and sugar has also been tightened.