Brazil suspends Argentine grape imports

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Brazil suspends Argentine grape imports

The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) has suspended imports of Argentine grapes after disease 'Brevipalpus Chilensis' was detected in a shipment from Mendoza.

Local media reported both Argentine and Chilean grapes were suspended, however Brazilian company Grupo JD's commercial manager Daniel Watanabe told this must have been a misunderstanding.

"The Brazilian government wants Argentina to use the same fumigation treatment as we have with Chilean growers, which is with methyl bromide, and this is normal for Chile," he said.

"But this product is not allowed in Argentina, and even in Brazil it is not allowed for our growers. Therefore Argentine imports have stopped but Chile should be able to ship to Brazil.

"In fact we have a truck of Chilean grapes that was loaded today and is on its way - we spoke to MAPA about it and they said there was no instruction from Brasilia to stop supply from Chile."

MAPA spokesperson Marcos Giesteira confirmed the measure was restricted to import grapes from Argentina.

"The measure does not include Chile because the country already meets a number of phytosanitary requirements for export of fruit to Brazil," he said.

"The decision will be maintained until Brazil creates a lot of requirements that must be made ​​by Argentina for sending loads of new grapes to Brazil. There is the possibility of Brazil send a technical mission to Argentina to see the controls that the country is currently in relation to Brevipalpus chilensis.

"This is considering quarantine pests absent in Brazil and with great capacity for economic losses."

Watanabe said the measure would not have a significant impact at the moment as the Argentine grape export season was coming to a close.

"They still have a year to solve this problem and there should be some discussions between both governments in finding a solution for treating this pest."

Univeg Expofrut Argentina manager for the Cuyo zone (provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis) Emilio Brusnelli, told Brazilian authorities had taken the broad-reaching measure rather than focusing just on Mendoza, where the grapes came from.

"For our company around 8% of the grapes we export go to Brazil, but speaking as an Argentine, a higher percentage of fruit in general goes there so this is going to disadvantage growers a lot," he said.

"If the suspension continues, growers will have to look for other markets, and it is difficult to find other markets as Argentina has high costs of production and packing, and that just raises costs."

In the 2011 calendar year Argentina exported 54,000 metric tons (MT) of grapes, of which 13,000MT went to Brazil. The South American neighbor is Argentina's third-biggest table grape export destination, behind the Netherlands and Russia.

Out of total table grape exports, just 3,000MT come from Mendoza while the vast majority come from San Juan with a volume of 46,000MT.

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