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Apple growers ask politicians to sign WTO contract

July 13, 2005

Apple growers ask politicians to sign WTO contract

New Zealand apple growers want politicians to sign a charter promising to take Australia to the World Trade Disputes Tribunal over access to Australia.

The National Party will be the first political party to sign the contract tomorrow when National leader Dr Don Brash visits growers in Hawke’s Bay.

Dr Brash will be signed the contract stating:

"The National Party commits to Apple Growers of New Zealand that it will take Australia to the World Trade Organisation’s Disputes Tribunal over access to Australia for New Zealand apples upon becoming the Government of New Zealand."

Australian Apple Action Group spokesman Rupert Ryan said the Labour government has only placed the issue on one of the WTO’s committee agendas.

“To resolve this we need Australia to be taken to a full WTO Disputes Tribunal and we applaud National for supporting New Zealand growers and promising to do what Labour has so far failed to do,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Brash says he is committed to invoking the WTO dispute resolution process against Australia for refusing to allow New Zealand apples into the Australian market.

"Labour should have taken firm action to resolve this dispute years ago. The decision by Helen Clark and Jim Sutton to take the issue to the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee is nothing more than an attempt to take it off the agenda during an election year. This is a huge insult to growers."

Mr Ryan is also disappointed that Australia is yet to release a date for the draft Import Risk Analysis (IRA) despite reassurance from New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff in late June that it would be announced “soon”.

“Mr Goff we are still waiting for the announcement – in fact we have been waiting for 15 years!

“Australia has been bowling underarm to us for a long time and they will continue to try and draw out the IRA process,” Mr Ryan said.
The process includes:

Once the draft IRA is released, there are a further sixty days given for submissions The Risk Analysis Panel then considers these submissions under no fixed timeframe, Once this is complete the Final IRA is then released And then there is the right of appeal to the High Court.

Apple growers have been promoting a consumer led boycott against Australian fresh produce and this will be stepped up over the next few weeks.

Australia has blocked New Zealand apples for 85 years citing the fear of the bacterial disease fireblight as the reason.

However last year the World Trade Organisation ruled on scientific evidence that mature apples do not carry the disease.


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