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Progress on New Zealand apples access to Australia

Progress on New Zealand apples access to Australia

The longstanding dispute over access for New Zealand apples to the Australian market should be resolved soon. Strong indications were given of this in a discussion between the Foreign Ministers of Australia and New Zealand in Queensland yesterday.

"We had been earlier advised that the long-awaited import risk analysis by Biosecurity Australia on New Zealand apples would be released in 'weeks not months'," said Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

"Alexander Downer confirmed this weekend that the analysis would be released 'soon' and that the decision made on it would be science-based.

"That is good news. After 84 years of Australia banning imported New Zealand apples, and 19 years of lobbying by New Zealand for access, patience has been wearing thin.

"Any decision based on science must find in New Zealand's favour. There is no evidence that fireblight disease can be spread by mature apples in commercial trade.

"New Zealand's case has been strengthened by a World Trade Organisation (WTO) compliance panel finding against Japanese restrictions on United States apples on June 23.

"It found Japanese restrictions unjustified, and the simple means of requiring apples to be mature and symptom-less to be adequate protection.

"New Zealand has also received strong support for its case against Australia when, for the first time ever, it took Australia last month to the WTO SPS committee.

"These recent developments strengthen our case further, and I am confident that we will reverse 84 years of history and soon be able to give Australian consumers the benefit of access to our top-quality apples.

"The quickest way to achieve this now is through bilateral discussions with Australia following release of its import risk analysis report.

"However, should there be further unjustifiable delay, New Zealand is prepared to take the matter through the WTO disputes process, though this itself would entail further delay.

"All indications are, however, that this should not be necessary, with a positive response by Australia to quickly resolve matters bilaterally," Mr Goff said.

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