Joel Nelsen
Joel Nelsen

The resumption of California citrus exports to China is still on hold after a meeting between Chinese and American officials.

Two Chinese government officials met with U.S. Department of Agriculture and California industry officials and shippers June 23-27 in California, said Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.

U.S. officials hoped the meeting would finalize a proposed agreement allowing California citrus back into China. China banned California product in April 2013 after brown rot was found in shipments.

Unfortunately, Nelsen said, there’s still work to be done.

“They were positive about they saw, they said the right things, but it didn’t conclude as we had hoped. We had hoped to have a signed agreement.”

One sticking point, Nelsen said, was a disagreement over the level of standardization growers and packers need to observe to prevent brown rot.

“The Chinese are more used to a regimented approach,” Nelsen said. “They wanted more specific language for protocols.”

USDA and California officials tried to convince the Chinese officials that that wasn’t always possible — what worked for one grower or packer, Nelsen said, didn’t necessarily work for others.

The Chinese officials said they would relay that information to their government and give a response soon, Nelsen said.

“I continue to be reasonably optimistic,” he said. “We developed a good rapport. I believe they’re receptive to this.”