WTO final verdict: NZ apples to hit Aussie shores

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 12th August 2010

Red Apple - by Abhijit TembhekarThe World Trade Organisation has publicly released its final ruling, vetoing stringent Australian quarantine rules and allowing the widespread importation of New Zealand apples into Australia.

The 598-page ruling was released on Monday, and found that the import risk analysis underpinning Australia’s stringent requirements for New Zealand apples is ‘not sufficiently supported by scientific evidence’ and that the requrements are ‘unduly trade-restrictive’.

The relevant import requirements are aimed at addressing the quarantine risks associated with New Zealand apples in relation to the diseases fire blight and European canker, and the insect apple leafcurling midge.

The Government has announced plans to appeal the decisions to the WTO Appellate Body, and stated that it believes it has adequate grounds.

“Australia has vigorously defended its science-based quarantine system throughout this dispute.  The Government is committed to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s quarantine regime,” said a joint statement from the office of Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Stephen Smith.

“Australia has also indicated to New Zealand, throughout the dispute, that our preference was to resolve the dispute bilaterally, although we could not relax measures aimed at managing risks. We believe that there is scope for meaningful trade in apples from New Zealand under those measures,” said a statement from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The WTO panel provided its report to the Governments of Australia and New Zealand on a confidential basis in May, but the preliminary finding was leaked to the media.