STC Number - 269

Restrictions on apples

Maintained by: United States of America
Raised by: China
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2008 G/SPS/R/51, paras. 21-22
Dates subsequently raised: October 2008 (G/SPS/R/53, paras. 37-38)
February 2009 (G/SPS/R/54, paras. 29-30)
June 2009 (G/SPS/R/55, paras. 50-51)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 080810 - Apples
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Risk assessment; Undue delays; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2008, China noted that it had submitted an application to export apples to the United States, accompanied by the necessary technical materials. Additional materials had been provided in accordance with the US requirements on pest risk analysis. However, the US pest risk analysis had been unduly delayed. China was free of fruit flies in apple planting areas, and it used fruit-bagging techniques to prevent pests and disease infections as the bagged fruits were totally isolated from the environment. China was also free of fire blight and there were no quarantine risks for Chinese apples. Furthermore, China had provided all the technical materials requested by the United States, and had held bilateral technical consultations with the competent authorities. However, the US pest risk analysis on Chinese apples had still not been completed after ten years. China urged the United States to complete the relevant procedures as soon as possible.
The United States noted that given the significant number of pests of quarantine significance that needed to be addressed in China's request, the pest risk assessment had proven to be challenging. The United States had been seeking to finalize the list of apple pests in China since 2004. Dozens of pests of potential quarantine significance had been identified. A final list of pests needed to be developed in order to evaluate the risks associated with Chinese apples and to identify the appropriate mitigations measures. The United States would continue to work on this issue to address the scientific matters associated with the risk assessment.
In October 2008, China reported that it had submitted an application for the export of apples to the United States in 1998, with the necessary technical materials for a pest risk analysis. However, the process of pest risk analysis had been delayed for more than ten years with the claim of repeated technical problems. This had seriously impeded the export of Chinese apples. Chinese apples had similar production areas, disease and pest occurrences, and regulations as pears in China. The United States allowed the importation of pears based on a risk assessment. This showed that there should not be any quarantine problem for Chinese apples to be exported to the United States.
The United States reported that since 2004, it had sought to finalize the list of apple pests of China. However, more scientific information was needed from the Chinese authorities to know whether some pests occurred in areas of China where apple production was concentrated.
In February 2009, the representative of China indicated that although there had been technical discussions on this subject, there had been no progress. China remained concerned about undue delays in the pest risk assessment process. China was free of fire blight and fruit flies in the apple-growing regions. In addition, fruit bagging was used, so there was no quarantine risk. Chinese apples had similar production areas, diseases, pest occurrences and regulations as pears in China. The United States had allowed importation of pears based on a risk assessment, so there should be no quarantine problem for apples. China indicated that according to Article 5.7 a risk assessment should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and asked the United States to complete its assessment as soon as possible. The representative of the United States indicated a willingness to continue working with China to address the scientific issues related to the market access request for Chinese apples. The United States had identified an extensive list of quarantine pests associated with apples from China, which made the risk assessment a challenging task. In addition, the United States was reviewing the information provided on the pests of concern to determine whether it provided a clear and complete scientific understanding of the pest situation, and was awaiting additional information from China. For example, China would have to provide scientific evidence to support its claims that some pests did not occur in the apple producing areas. The United States would review this information, once received, along with all other submissions, and continue to work with China to address the scientific issues associated with the risk assessment.
In June 2009, the representative of China stated that this issue had been previously raised several times both bilaterally and multilaterally. China remained concerned about undue delays in the pest risk assessment process. A period of 14 years had gone by and there had been no advancements with regard to the risk assessment process. China requested further clarifications in this regard and hoped for the resumption of trade in apples between the United States and China. The representative of the United States stated that the risk assessment process was underway but not yet completed, and expressed hope for a quick conclusion to the process.