May 3, 2018
France reinstates its ban on U.S. cherry imports

According to a report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, on April 6, 2018 France published its third emergency decree banning cherry imports from countries where the use of the chemical dimethoate is legal. As a result, U.S. cherry exports to France will be prohibited in 2018 as they were in 2016 and 2017. USDA indicated the action will create “competitor opportunities in other EU markets, as the French cherry crop is likely to be smaller and more expensive due to the ban on the use of dimethoate.”

Fruit importers and traders fear that France may one day implement similar domestic bans against other EU-approved pesticides or chemicals that will disrupt the free movement of additional EU and third-country fruits and vegetables into France.

Executive summary:

On April 6, 2018, France reinstated the ban of the import and sales of cherries imported from countries where the chemical product dimethoate can be used on cherries and cherry trees. The ban is now in effect until April 5, 2019. Such a ban was already in place between April 26 and Dec. 31, 2017 and between April 22 and Dec. 31, 2016.

France took these measures as safeguard measures permitted by Article 54 of EU Regulation 178/2002. France’s decision followed the 2016 ban of the chemical compound for domestic production. Dimethoate was used to control Drosophila suzukii, an Asian fruit fly which causes considerable damage in cherry orchards. France claims it is dangerous to human health.

France imports roughly one-fifth of its cherry consumption, the bulk coming from EU countries including some, such as Spain and Germany, which have already banned dimethoate. The French prohibition means the United States cannot export cherries to France which were valued at around $1 million (2015) annually before the ban.

On the other hand, as France’s production will continue to be impacted by the ban on the pesticide, French cherries are likely to be scarcer and more expensive, creating opportunities for competitors in traditional French export markets such as the UK. The French Ministry of Agriculture also instituted a €5 million (6.1 million USD) program to subsidize the income of French cherry producers impacted by Drosophila suzukii related losses. Fruit importers and traders fear that France may implement a similar domestic ban against other EU-approved pesticides or chemicals that could stop imports of additional EU and third country fruit and vegetables into France.

For the full USDA report visit here.

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