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NZ welcomes WTO appeal ruling on fireblight

NZ welcomes WTO appeal ruling on fireblight

Japan's appeal against WTO ruling on apples lost

The World Trade Organisation appellate body's ruling that Japan's restrictions on apple imports are unjustified was welcome news, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Speaking from a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation meeting in Rome, Mr Sutton said the Appellate Body decision made it clear that scientific evidence does not justify the fire blight-related import restrictions imposed by Japan that have severely curtailed international trade in mature apples.

The WTO appellate body had rejected Japan's appeal of a decision that its quarantine restrictions on apples were inconsistent with WTO requirements. The dispute was brought by the United States. New Zealand was a third party to the case.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand welcomed the ruling and hoped that Japan will take prompt action to remove longstanding restrictions to NZ apple exports. He said that while the Appellate Body's rulings were being carefully studied it was clear that the decision supported New Zealand's long held concerns regarding unjustified restrictions on apple trade.

New Zealand participated as a third party in the WTO proceedings and made substantial submissions to the Panel pointing to the lack of any evidence that fire blight had ever been introduced into any area through trade in mature apple fruit (the only apples traded). The New Zealand and United States submissions to the panel highlighted that scientific evidence did not support Japanese assertions that trade in apple fruit presented a fire blight risk, and that the various measures Japan had in place to deal with the purported risk were therefore unjustified.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand encouraged Japan to take expeditious action to conform to its obligations by removing the WTO-inconsistent restrictions.

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