( File photo )

As trade talks with China progress, the California Avocado Commission is seeking to advance its 14-year campaign to allow California avocados access to China, which is seeing leaps in demand for the fruit.

After recent trade policy meetings in Beijing, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service notified the commission that technical meetings to discuss phytosanitary matters and market access would be scheduled soon.

In a letter penned by commission officials, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and eight members of Congress from California urged Agriculture Sonny Perdue and USDA trade and regulatory officials to push for access to the China market.

“As there is no established commercial avocado production in China, the demand for avocados in China is experiencing tremendous growth,” according to the letter. “It is imperative that California avocado farmers be afforded the same trade opportunities as their competitors.”

The letter notes that in the time California has been lobbying for access, avocados from Mexico, Peru and Chile have been allowed by China’s government.

In May 2016, China’s agriculture agency sent a group of inspectors who visited avocado groves and packing facilities. Since then, APHIS and China Customs have been working on a pest-risk analysis, one of the steps to gaining access.

“We are not aware of any scientific or phytosanitary reasons for China to delay a market agreement for California avocados,” according to the letter. “A California avocado trade agreement with China should be made a priority in all trade negotiations with China.”