Post-Harvest Decay Organisms: From 2008 to 2009, several Pacific Northwest apple shippers were suspended from exporting apples to China due to alleged Chinese detections of a post-harvest fungus. These suspensions violate an earlier agreement with China which stipulates that only orchards, not shippers, will be suspended for quarantine issues. There have also been numerous questions regarding the veracity of the reported pest interceptions.
This issue figured prominently at the 2009 USDA-AQSIQ plant health negotiations in Shanghai. At that meeting, China committed to only suspend orchards and not shippers; however, a month later, China again sent notifications suspending shippers.
These actions are unacceptable. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has petitioned the Chinese government to reinstate suspended packing houses, citing insufficient evidence of pest presence, possible confusion over what was actually detected, and APHIS’ failure to detect the disease in orchards in which the lots originated.
China should uphold its commitments to the U.S. and immediately reinstate the suspended shippers. In the future, China should only take actions against orchards when there is concrete evidence of a legitimate pest find.
Furthermore, China should not use suspensions as a political tool to extract quarantine market access concessions from the U.S., as has happened in the past.
Potential Increase in Exports
Obtaining market access for all apple varieties and resolving the post harvest fungal quarantine concern should result in an increase in sales of $5 million to $25 million in the near term.
The People’s Republic of China currently prohibits the importation of pears from the United States due to an alleged quarantine concern with respect to the bacterial disease fire blight. China is concerned that this bacterial plant disease might be transmitted to the country’s domestic crops. Mature, symptomless pears do not transmit this plant disease. Research published in 2007 by faculty at Oregon State University substantiates this claim. China should open its market to U.S. pears.
In cooperation with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Foreign Agricultural Service, the NHC has been actively seeking access for pears to the PRC’s market since 1991 and following bilateral technical meetings in Shanghai, China July 14-16, 2009, the PRC finally provided its pest risk analysis on U.S. pears. Back and forth technical exchanges are now underway to address the PRC’s stated quarantine concerns.
China has access to U.S. markets for its Ya pears and Fragrant pears and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is now in the process of reviewing access to the U.S. for Chinese Sand pears.