California-China citrus agreement nears final stages

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California-China citrus agreement nears final stages

China's borders remain closed to California citrus but an official announcement is expected to reopen the market soon.

California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen said trade protocol has already been approved by the United States orange_squareDepartment of Agriculture (USDA) and is awaiting a nod from Chinese authorities.

"We had a bilateral discussion in China and from all appearances that went very positively. From a technical perspective, the Chinese, the USDA and the industry agreed to a number of mitigation steps or protocol that would allow our fruit to once again enter China," he told

"There was an exchange of paper to make sure the written word agreed with what was verbally stipulated. We understand the paper was positively received by both the USDA and AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) but still had to go up through higher channels."

Although final approval of the agreement has been slightly delayed, Nelsen said he remains cautiously optimistic that the protocol will go through shortly.

"Frankly, we had hoped an announcement would have been issued this week. I don’t know if that is going to happen. The goal was for both countries to agree and issue a joint statement this week. But I haven’t gotten any indication of that yet," he said.

Under the new protocol, California citrus growers will be required to skirt trees to avoid low hanging fruit and to apply a copper treatment to trees. They will also need to add special material to the post-harvest bath done during packing.

To take extra caution, Nelsen said the California industry will be adding additional inspectors to avoid mistakes.


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