STC Number - 347

Import restrictions on apples, pears and citrus

Maintained by: India
Raised by: Argentina
Supported by: Chile; European Union
First date raised: March 2013 G/SPS/R/70, paras. 3.6-3.13
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Risk assessment; Undue delays
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2013, Argentina raised concerns regarding India's import restrictions on fresh apples and pears which were put in place on 1 April 2004. India had alleged that its authorities must conduct a pest risk analysis (PRA) for those products. Argentina submitted the required information to India in 2004, while requesting that access to India's market for Argentine exports not be disrupted until the results of the PRA were known. In the minutes of the Joint Commission meeting of July 2006, India agreed to prioritise completion of the risk analysis required for market access prior to the following harvest of December 2006. In this meeting Argentina submitted the response to comments communicated by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC) on the PRA-related issues. Argentina had invited India to inspect its production zones, and in November 2007 a technical inspection was carried out by the DAC. On this occasion, Argentina submitted additional information, as documented in the minutes of the bilateral meeting of November 2007. This matter was the subject of a bilateral meeting in the margins of this SPS Committee. In December 2008, comments were requested from India concerning the information presented in the 2007 bilateral meeting. In April 2009, India indicated that the pest risk analysis for pears and apples was being processed. However, despite repeated requests by Argentina, there had been no formal response from India on the outcome of this process. In order to help resolve this issue, Argentina proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with India on SPS issues but this had not materialized since 2006.
During the Joint Commission meeting held in New Delhi in July 2006, Argentina had also submitted a technical dossier for the risk analysis of citrus products. As recorded in the minutes, India agreed to promptly undertake a pest risk analysis for citrus fruits and to set up a bilateral working group on SPS issues to expeditiously finalize the pending risk analysis and the SPS MOU. At the 2007 technical meeting, Argentina provided comments to the risk analysis document undertaken for citrus. In 2008 and 2009 there was an exchange of technical information. Since then, Argentina had not received any official response from India to the comments provided despite repeated requests in 2010 and 2011.
Argentina requested India to allow effective access of apples, pears and citrus into the Indian market in order to comply with its formal commitments and, thus, remedy the lengthy trade interruption of apples and citrus that amounted to nine years - without being based on scientific evidence - and that caused commercial damage to its producers as a result of lost market share.
Chile supported Argentina's concern and reported that it had faced the same problems relating to its fruit exports to India. Although Chilean export and safety conditions had been improved, Chile had not received any information from India regarding the specific requirements for obtaining market access. Chile requested a response from India to the questions it had submitted in writing.
The European Union also supported Argentina's concern and noted the lack of transparency in the approval process for exports of new plant and fruit commodities to India. The absence of a list of regulated pests in India eliminated the predictability of the conditions under which trading partners might be able to export. The European Union noted India's lack of resources to process the many pending export applications for various export commodities which the European Union had great interest in exporting to India.
India explained that imports of apples, pears and citrus fruit were governed by the existing pest risk analysis guidelines that prescribed specific MRLs for pesticides in line with international standards. All fruit products were therefore free to be imported to India if they met these specific tolerance limits.
Argentina clarified that its concern dealt with the phytosanitary requirements for the imports of fruit and not with the prescribed MRLs. It awaited the results of the pest risk analysis in pears and apples, as well as a response to its comments on the pest risk analysis conducted for citrus fruits, in order to know the exact conditions required for imports of fruit.
India indicated that no trade ban had been imposed on imports of fruit coming from Argentina and that according to its database, Argentina had been exporting fruit to India and no import restrictions were in place.