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Pipfruit NZ Reaction to WTO Decision

Media Statement
24 June 2005

Pipfruit New Zealand Incorporated

Pipfruit NZ Reaction to WTO Decision

The NZ pipfruit industry today welcomed the WTO decision on the trade dispute on apple access between USA and Japan.

“The WTO has given us a very timely clarification of their earlier decision on fireblight,” according to Pipfruit NZ Chairman Ian Palmer. “In the previous case on this issue, they determined that mature apples do not pose a fireblight risk. Now they have gone the extra step and said that no mitigating measures can be justified.”

“This greatly strengthens our case on the access issue with Australia and makes the decision for Biosecurity Australia very easy,” Mr Palmer said. “There is no reason for them to continue to delay the release of their Import Risk Analysis.”

NZ trade to Australia in apples has been banned for 85 years because of a bacterial disease called fireblight that can attack apple and pear trees. However, science proving that mature apples are not a carrier of the disease has now been accepted by the WTO in a case between USA and Japan. USA recently took Japan back to the WTO because Japan insisted on imposing a series of mitigating measures such as orchard inspection and chlorine treatment. The WTO today ruled all such measures as unnecessary.

Pipfruit NZ Chief Executive Peter Beaven was critical of Biosecurity Australia’s handling of the WTO case. “Last year the Risk Assessment Panel managed to write an 800 page report on NZ apple access and completely ignored a WTO decision that was released on the issue of fireblight three months earlier,” he said.

“The NZ industry wants to make it as clear as possible to the Risk Assessment Panel now charged with dealing with our application that if they choose not to follow the latest WTO ruling we will ask the NZ Government to take a case on the issue at the WTO. So far as we are concerned, the only matter left to be determined on fireblight is how to define “mature” apples, Mr Beaven said.

“If they continue to waste everyone’s time fighting an issue that has now received such a clear ruling, they might gain a little time, but they will lose a lot of respect in the international community,” he said.

ENDS

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