Argentina cries foul to WTO over U.S. lemon market restrictions

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Argentina cries foul to WTO over U.S. lemon market restrictions

The Argentine foreign ministry has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about the "persistent" barriers to entry for its lemons in the U.S. and meat in Japan.

A release from the ministry said Argentina had carried out an "energetic demand" to the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee in a presentation.

"The unjustified restrictions of the U.S. and Japan add to traditional protectionist practices - such as agricultural subsidies - that perpetuate a lopsided multilateral trading system, and provide further evidence of double standards between developed and developing countries in terms of international trade," an Argentine government representative told the WTO's

"Argentina leads the questioning of several developed countries in the proliferation of sanitary, phytosanitary and scientifically baseless technical regulations that arbitrarily and unjustifiably restrict the export of agricultural products."

In April, California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelson told the presence of CVC and black spot in Argentina was a concern for growers in his state.

"For example, they have black spot in Florida and it’s spreading. There is no known cure and for us in California we deal in fresh citrus and want to avoid the possibility that black spot enters here," he said.

"For our industry in California we just happen to be one of the last pristine citrus areas in the world that doesn’t have this disease. Our colleagues in other parts of the world do, but we don’t want it.

"In the countries that supply citrus to the U.S. where they can export from are listed as disease free areas, but in Argentina the scope of disease has never been fully delineated – this is not an industry that opposes exports from other countries to the U.S., but it does oppose imports from countries with disease issues."

Tucumán Citrus Association (ATC) president Roberto Sánchez Loria told LV7 Radio Tucumán negotiations for U.S. lemon entry were at the final phytosanitary stage.

"This whole long phytosanitary process gives place to a political stage where authorities from both countries should look at issues so that we can enter this market again," he said.

"I don't think we'll achieve [U.S.] exports this year."

A "shorter" harvest

Sánchez Loria expects the lemon harvest will be much shorter in 2012 following the impacts of drought conditions earlier in the year, but exports will likely be similar to what they were in 2011.

"We are already going through the second part of the harvest, which is now in its final stage," he said.

"I don't think the export crop will go any later than the first days of September because there is not much fruit - we will probably have a shorter crop than last year.

"We clearly know that we're not going to surpass 1.1 million [metric] tons, a low number - on the issue of exports, we could repeat last year's figure."

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