Jan 26, 2015
China expands access for U.S. apples

Over the weekend, close to 20 years after the initial request was submitted to China, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) have agreed to a regulatory framework to expand apple access from the United States to China.

The agreement, reached during bi-lateral negotiations in San Francisco last week, provides entry for all varieties that meet work-plan requirements from all apple growing regions in the United States. Pending completion of final administrative details, full access should be realized in the coming weeks, according to a Washington Apple Commission (WAC) press release.

China has allowed the direct shipment of Red and Golden Delicious varieties since 1994 (except for a recent moratorium); other varieties were not part of the original market access decision and since 1995 have been a topic of negotiation with AQSIQ.

“The Washington apple industry has changed tremendously since we first gained access to China in 1994,” said Todd Fryhover, WAC’s president. “Red and Golden Delicious now account for less than 40 percent of our overall volume, and gaining access for the rest of our varieties allows us to provide Chinese consumers with more high-quality choices from Washington.”

China, although the world’s largest apple producer, is also a major market for Washington apples, and eclipsed 3 million 40-pound cartons (54,446 metric tons), worth an estimated $55 million, during the 2010-11 marketing year, making it the industry’s fourth largest export market that season. In August 2012, citing concerns over a recently discovered fungus, AQSIQ officials halted the issuance of import permits, and access for Red and Golden Delicious varieties was only regained in October 2014.

Coming during a record crop year that has seen unexpected negative impacts from the West Coast port slowdown, the Russian ban on the import of agricultural products from the United States, a potential anti-dumping case in Mexico and the worldwide effects of the strengthening dollar, the market opening is “a welcome bright spot” according to Barbara Walkenhauer, chair of WAC’s board. She, along with Fryhover, is headed to China to meet with Chinese fresh fruit traders and personally encourage them to bring in the additional varieties.

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