NZ wins apples war

NZPA reports:

Trade minister Tim Groser has welcomed a World Trade Organisation () ruling that says ’s 90-year-old restrictions on New Zealand apples are unscientific and break international rules.

Australia imposed the restrictions in 1921 to protect local apple trees from fireblight, a pest that also affects pear trees and rose bushes.

New Zealand has been pushing for access to the Australian market since 1986, and after “exhaustive efforts” took the dispute to the WTO.

The organisation’s Appellate Body found in favour of New Zealand in August, but Australia appealed the decision.

In a new decision released overnight, the body upheld its original findings that all 16 of Australia’a quarantine measures were inconsistent with its legal obligations.

The victory should allow New Zealand to resume apple exports to Australia and clear the way for sales to other markets where the fruit is also banned.

At long long last. This should be the end of the track.

If Australia refused to abide by the WTO decision, it would be a massive undermining of its credibility on trade issues. And they would actually be liable for trade sanctions.

The smart people in the Australian Government will be pleased with the outcome. By going all the way to a WTO appeal, they can say to their apple producers they have done everything possible, but they have to obey international law. And it allows them to remove this stain on their free trade credentials.

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