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Australia's decision on New Zealand apple imports

Australia's decision on New Zealand apple imports

The Import Risk Analysis for New Zealand apples issued today by Biosecurity Australia should open the way for New Zealand's apple access into the Australian market, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand would now be studying the conditions for market access in the Import Risk Analysis to ensure that they took into account the significant international scientific consensus, confirmed by a World Trade Organisation ruling last year, that apples are not a pathway for transmission of fireblight.

"We have argued for many years that the grounds for removing Australia's ban on New Zealand apples were compelling, as study after study had found no scientific evidence that apples in commercial trade carry fire blight. Indeed, I was told by Australian Government ministers in 1990 that a decision to enable the import of New Zealand apples was close.

"A lot of people ? including Foreign Affairs and MAF staff and industry ? have worked hard to get to this point, but more work will be needed to achieve market access.

"The Australian ban on New Zealand apples has been in place for 83 years. It was imposed on the grounds that they might be vectors for transmission of the plant disease fire blight. The scientific evidence has shown that this is not the case. I very much hope that the IRA issued today will bring an end to that ban."

The Australian decision follows the World Trade Organisation's ruling in the US-Japan apples dispute, which found that apples in commercial trade were not vectors for transmission of fire blight. New Zealand took part as a Third Party in the dispute, presenting evidence to the dispute settlement panel demonstrating that Japan's fire blight-related import controls on apples were not technically justified.

Mr Sutton acknowledged Biosecurity Australia's prompt release of the Import Risk Analysis following the WTO ruling was helpful.

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