U.S. puts Argentine lemon import access on hold
Just days after Donald Trump's inauguration as president, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a stay on a controversial rule to allow Northwest Argentine lemon imports into the U.S.
The decision to allow imports from the South American country was described as a "lump of coal" ahead of Christmas by California Citrus Mutual, amid pest risk concerns.
On the other hand, importers were optimistic about the deal claiming it would help ensure year-round supply and thus bolster demand.
In an announcement today, APHIS said its decision to issue a stay of 60 days was in accordance with guidance from the White House on Jan. 20.
Juan Luis Fernández, Minister for Economic Development in Tucuman - the main province where Argentina's lemons are grown - said the decision was a "normal transitionary measure".
"What has happened is a suspension of any type of agreement in all aspects of the United States administration by effect of a rule signed by the new president, Donald Trump, for which those agreements that haven't entered into force remain suspended for a period of 60 days and should be revised by the new administration," Fernández was quoted as saying.
The minister reportedly said this did not mean the U.S. would go back on its initial agreement to allow Argentine lemons into the country, but the implementation of the new rule would be postponed from Jan. 23 to March 25.
"We just have to wait and keep working so that it is finalized," he was quoted as saying.
"It's important to note the technical aspects which were the subject of discussion these last few years were clarified and resolved between the phytosanitary organizations of the United States and the Republic of Argentina, which are difficult to reverse."