WTO rejects Australia’s appeal of New Zealand apple ruling
The World Trade Organization rejected Australia’s appeal of an earlier decision to allow New Zealand apples into the country, ending a nearly 25-year fight, according to local news media and government and industry statements.
Having access to the Australian market is expected to increase New Zealand apple exports by NZ $30 million (US $22.3 million) in the next two to three years, according to New Zealand’s TVNZ.
In a statement, Pipfruit NZ CEO Peter Beaven said that the WTO decision vindicates New Zealand’s decision to take Australia, its closest trading partner, to a disputes hearing.
“Our aim has always been to achieve commercially meaningful access to Australia and we were always confident that our arguments were supported by strong science,” Beaven said.
Australia banned the import of New Zealand apples in 1921 to prevent the introduction of fire blight, a bacterial disease that can kill apple and pear trees. New Zealand began trying to lift the ban in 1986, according to TVNZ.
In its report, the WTO sided with New Zealand, saying it “accepted that New Zealand had raised a presumption that there is no scientific evidence that mature, symptomless apples can provide a pathway for the transmission of fire blight.”
Australian officials have accepted the ruling.
“The government … will now proceed with a science-based review of the import risk analysis for New Zealand apples,” said Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig and Trade Minister Craig Emerson in a joint statement.
“The Australian apple industry will be given an opportunity to present its views on this matter,” Ludwig added, according to the statement.
Photo: Scott Bauer/USDA