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Import rules essential before access granted

Hon Jim Sutton MP for Aoraki

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Trade Negotiations, and Associate Minister for Rural Affairs

Media Statement|

8 July 2005

Import rules essential before access granted

Rules governing the import of apples into the Australian market have to be written before any trade can start, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

"This Government is committed to getting access to the Australian market for our apples, but the proper process does have to be carried out before that can happen."

Mr Sutton told apple growers protesting in Havelock North today that it was essential that Australia complete its import risk analysis process ? without that, trade could not happen.

"Even if we successfully took Australia to the World Trade Organisation disputes settlement panel, they would still have to complete that import risk assessment process before we can start sending apples there. There is no other way around that process."

Mr Sutton said the same system applied in New Zealand for any imported food products. "We write a draft import health standard, there is consultation on it, it's re-written if necessary and then issued, subject to any legal challenge."

He said New Zealand applied its quarantine rules on the basis of honest science, and Australia must do the same. The United States and the European Union were among the other WTO members to back New Zealand's views on this at last week's SPS committee hearing.

"As we have been telling Australia for more than five years ? and the WTO has recently confirmed in a dispute between Japan and the United States ? fireblight is not transmitted by mature apples, the science is clear. Their orchards are not at risk from our imports."

Mr Sutton said the Government had protested, and continued to protest, Australian delays at every possible opportunity. He welcomed the pipfruit industry's decision to make its unhappiness with Australian delays public as well, backing up the Government's message to the Australian Government about the importance of the issue.

ENDS

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