NZ wins apples war

November 30th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

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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24 Responses to “NZ wins apples war”

  1. ch123 (647 comments) says:

    Of course, they still don’t actually have to buy our apples…

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  2. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    Bevan, that’s because they’re stored in cool rooms for up to 18 months. I’m sure if Australian consumers had the option of fresh fruit from the supermarket they’d take it.

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  3. ch123 (647 comments) says:

    “You kidding me? Aussie apples are complete tasteless shit!”

    They probably are tasteless shit. Still doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily buy ours. I hope they do though :)

    “that’s because they’re stored in cool rooms for up to 18 months…” etc

    You do realise most apple varieties are only picked for a few months over the summer and they’re put into cool store so we can eat them year round? The apples you’re buying in the supermarket now were probably picked back in May. OK, that’s not as bad as 18 months, but the point is the apples we are eating now are not “fresh”.

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  4. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    What’s wrong with importing northern hemisphere apples for the off season?

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  5. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    Um gazz – the main reason for that is the lack of competition, cause there is no source of apples in the off season (because the apple growers have effectively blocked apple imports), the supermarkets are forced to store apples for the off season. And it just makes commercial sense that during the apple season the supermarkets are better off selling the stored stock before putting the new stock on the shelf and that means we are only getting crappy tasteless shit.

    I don’t know why, but aussie growers just don’t seem to want to even try to export their apple stock, they just want to protect the local market.

    BTW, we do have access to fresh fruit and veg at the local sunday markets – but typically its just the same old bland and tasteless stuff. Except the Bowen Mangoes!

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  6. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    That bit seems to be over, but it may not be the last hurdle.

    The federal government says it accepts a World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision overturning restrictions on New Zealand apples and says it will now undertake a full import risk assessment.

    “The government has accepted the decision and will now proceed with a science-based review of the import risk analysis for New Zealand apples. The review will be conducted by Biosecurity Australia,” they said in a statement.

    It doesn’t sound like this year’s cool store remnants will be going to Aus. Maybe not next year’s either.

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  7. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    What’s wrong with importing northern hemisphere apples for the off season?

    Its all about protectionism. Aussie apples taste bland, even fresh ones IMO – so who would buy them? And the aussies probably think that if a Nth Hemisphere country wouldn’t take there apples based on ability to resell them – then the way to sell their excess stock is to store them for the off season and lobby politicians to put high tariffs on imported stock to effectively kill the imports.

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  8. redeye (633 comments) says:

    Aussie apples are also bloody expensive. 2nd most expensive in the world behind Japan according to the articles I’ve read. Aussies are a bit slow but when given the choice I think most would take cheaper and tastier.

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  9. ch123 (647 comments) says:

    “Its all about protectionism”

    I could be wrong, but I believe they do that with bananas too with no imports allowed. It makes the price of bananas artificially high in Aus, at least I believe it was the case a few years ago. My uncle would guzzle bannas by the bunch when he visited from Sydney because they were comparatively so cheap here.

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  10. Pete George (23,831 comments) says:

    “You kidding me? Aussie apples are complete tasteless shit!”
    “OK, that’s not as bad as 18 months, but the point is the apples we are eating now are not “fresh”.”

    One problem I have noticed more over the last few years is supermarket apples have often been picked too soon and haven’t been allowed to ripen, so they can also be tasteless shit too.

    Farmers market is the best bet – and even then you need to work out which growers are good. It’s common to be told “they will ripen in a few days”. Pears will sweeten off the tree but they still need to be picked ripe enough. Apples are best freshly picked as long as they are ripe.

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  11. double d (225 comments) says:

    the Australian industry has put no effort into developing new Apple varieties. The focus has been on protecting their market.

    They do not export for that exact reason. Australian Apples are perceived as inferior than all Sthn Hemisphere producers and only small amounts of varieties such as Pink Lady and Fuji are exported.

    Pete – you have it right. The war will now begin on a different front. They will try and tie us up in knots with an export protocol that pushes makes export very difficult.

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  12. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    Pardon me DPF, but for some reason you seem to be assuming Australians will behave with integrity and humility…?

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  13. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    The federal government says it accepts a World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision overturning restrictions on New Zealand apples and says it will now undertake a full import risk assessment.
    “The government has accepted the decision and will now proceed with a science-based review of the import risk analysis for New Zealand apples. The review will be conducted by Biosecurity Australia,” they said in a statement.

    Australia is clearly stalling with this pathetic notion of ‘scientific review: import analysis’. It proves that the former convicts want as little from us as possible, and we ought to focus our export energies on the greater Asian/South Pacific markets instead. Personally, I couldn’t care less where our NZ-grown produce ends up. As long as we’re getting enough bang for our apple. Rest assured that there will always be another market to pick up Australia’s ‘slack’.

    :D

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  14. double d (225 comments) says:

    ch123 – you have it right about bananas. imports are prohibited.
    i was in queensland the year they had the big tropical storm that wiped out banana production.
    we bought bananas at the supermarket plus a few other items of fruit.
    we nearly fell over when we were told the bananas were AUD15 per kg

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  15. trout (957 comments) says:

    We used to import apples from the Northern hemisphere in the off season. You may remember the shiny, red, floury, tasteless Washington State grown Delicious variety imported for the Christmas season. Since the advent of controlled atmosphere storage we have been able to obtain high quality fruit right up to Christmas. The crisp. juicy, Rose apples you are enjoying now were probably picked in May.
    The Australians will fall over themselves to buy better product than presently available at a lower price. And yes, the Oz apple industry will in all probability be wiped out – they are still growing outdated varieties (granny smith etc.) and their business depends on import protection. Perhaps there will be a flow on to the protected banana industry.

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  16. Paulus (2,711 comments) says:

    I will believe it when I see it happen.

    Remember the interpretation of “Unfair Practice” – the bloke who hits you first.

    Parallel – Australian Apple growers

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  17. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    When is New Zealand going to remove its tarrif on cane baskets?

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  18. wikiriwhis business (4,200 comments) says:

    Another sign of trans tasman union.

    Although happy to hear John Key speak realistically about Irelands failure to take advantage of the Euro.

    It’s now obvious the Euro was used to anchor down the EU.

    History would obviously repeat in the pacific.

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  19. wreck1080 (3,999 comments) says:

    Unfortunately for the NZ consumer, apple prices will probably increase.

    Why sell apples in NZ for $5kg, when you can sell them in Aussie for $10/kg? Get what I mean?

    Hopefully I am wrong.

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  20. double d (225 comments) says:

    fortunately for the nz apple grower the return will hopefully increase.

    this is very timely for an industry that is suffering from exposure to markets that are sick – UK/Europe/US – with currency making the biz very marginal

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  21. Bevan (3,232 comments) says:

    I could be wrong, but I believe they do that with bananas too with no imports allowed.

    Yes they do. Result of a cyclone in 2008 wiping out the majority of the North Qld Banana trees: Banana’s at $12/kg.

    Why sell apples in NZ for $5kg, when you can sell them in Aussie for $10/kg? Get what I mean?

    Apples in Aus are typically selling between $6 – 9/kg AUD. But who says that the price will remain constant? Typically when competition is introduced to a market the price comes down.

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  22. Put it away (2,872 comments) says:

    Yeah ! How do you like them apples !!!!

    Well someone had to say it…

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  23. Murray (8,803 comments) says:

    APPLESAUCE!!!!

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