STC Number - 86

Access of California table grapes

Maintained by: Australia
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: European Union; Philippines
First date raised: March 2001 G/SPS/R/21, paras. 92-94
Dates subsequently raised: July 2001 (G/SPS/R/22, paras. 65-67)
October 2001 (G/SPS/R/25, para. 26)
March 2002 (G/SPS/R/26, para. 39)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0806 Grapes, fresh or dried.
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Risk assessment
Status: Resolved
Solution: Mutually agreed solution on a series of risk management procedures
Date reported as resolved: 01/03/2002

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2001, the United States indicated that for the past 10 years there had been difficulties in exporting California table grapes to Australia. Even under Australia's new IRA process, delays and requests for additional information and documentation had continued, although nearly a year had elapsed since the release of the import risk assessment (IRA). Australia had conducted additional studies, the latest focussing on the glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce's Disease. The United States maintained that these additional studies were not justified, and urged Australia to modify its import restrictions consistent with the IRA and its obligations under Article 5.1. Australia explained that the administrative process was not complete until the Director of Plant and Animal Quarantine made a final decision. Australia was free of Pierce's Disease and believed that there was a need for further scientific research. A mission of scientists to the United States in 2000 had raised questions about changes in the risk profile which required more information. Australia was willing to cooperate with the United States to learn more about this disease and its vector. The Philippines, on behalf of ASEAN, shared the US concern regarding Australia's phytosanitary regulatory process.
In July 2001, the United States expressed disappointment at Australia's apparent abandonment of its commitment to a transparent, science-based risk assessment system. The IRA process did not seem to have an end. Australia had initiated new studies whose chief purpose seemed to be to delay lifting the import prohibition on California table grapes. Australia had pointed to the relatively recent introduction of a leaf-hopping insect, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, although its own IRA had noted that the risks associated with this pest would be negligible. Australia had decided more research on risk mitigation for glassy-winged sharpshooters would be necessary. Table grapes in California were subject to numerous mitigations, and the United States was willing to address legitimate scientific concerns. However, additional research on a pest not found in shipments of table grapes was completely without scientific merit and was a delaying tactic. Australia indicated that the change in risk profile associated with the spread of Pierce's disease, and of its vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, in California required additional scientific information to ensure protection from quarantine risk.
In October 2001, the United States informed the Committee that constructive consultations had been held to discuss quarantine procedures. Both countries had agreed to continue the dialogue to work toward a resolution of the outstanding issues. Australia was confident that a mutually acceptable solution could be found soon.
In March 2002, the United States reported that following consultations, Australia and the United States had agreed on a series of risk management procedures to allow for the export of California table grapes to Australia. The risk management practices would be re-evaluated after one year.