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Pressure put on Australia to accept our apples

30 November 2005

Further pressure put on Australia to accept our apples

Australian High Commissioner, Allan Hawke, was given a clear message by Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton today that New Zealand is at the end of its tether and has lost patience on this issue. He told him that Australia must set the earliest possible date for release of the report on New Zealand apple access to Australia.

Last week Jim Anderton formally requested a meeting with the High Commissioner (that meeting was held today) in order to put further pressure on Australia to accept our apples for import and set the date for release of the draft Import Risk Analysis (IRA) report.

Reissue of the draft IRA is the next step required in the process to get New Zealand apples accepted for import to Australia. It has been held up while Biosecurity Australia (BA) was involved in High Court deliberations on an IRA on pork. This issue has now been resolved so there are no further impediments to BA setting a reissue date for the IRA on NZ apples.

"I am assured that the Australian High Commissioner is seized of the issue and committed to urgent resolution. He agreed to immediately call Canberra after the meeting. I hope to see the reissued IRA in the very near future.

"New Zealand insists that the IRA must be based on sound science and take into account the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) findings in the recent Japan-Apples dispute," Jim Anderton said.

On 23 June 2004 the WTO Compliance Panel issued a decision in a case taken by the United States (supported by New Zealand) against Japan for not allowing their apples in, that commercially traded apples do not spread fire blight.

The government continues to keep up the pressure on Australia to accept our apples for import.

Recent activity:

- The Prime Minister raises the issue at every opportunity with Australian Prime Minister Howard,

- The issue is raised whenever Australian and New Zealand ministers meet at the margins of international meetings, eg the Cairns Group meeting,

- It is raised at CER Trade Ministers meetings, and

- Previous Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton conducted numerous teleconferences with Australian Trade and Agriculture ministers.

Australia has ruled out importation of New Zealand apples since 1921 when fire blight was found here.


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