5 Feb 2010

Apple export decision now due for release mid-year

1:46 pm on 5 February 2010

A decision by the World Trade Organisation on New Zedaland's case for apple access into Australia has been further delayed.

In 2007 Biosecurity Australia agreed to end an 86-year-old ban on New Zealand apples, which was imposed due to the risk of introducing the bacterial disease of fireblight.

Because the quarantine restrictions were so severe, Pipfruit New Zealand pressured the then Labour Government to take a case to the WTO in Geneva.

In July last year a WTO panel made up of trade experts spent a week hearing submissions from Australia and New Zealand and expert evidence from scientists.

The panel was due to make its judgement known in November.

But Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Peter Beaven says there has been a delay until the end of March when a report will be released to the Australian and New Zealand governments for comment.

He says the report will then be translated into at least 30 languages before being released publicly, probably not before late June.

Mr Beaven says if the decision is in New Zealand's favour and Australia lodges an appeal, there's little chance of any apple exports to Australia going ahead next year.