A further delay in the World Trade Organisation hearing on New Zealand's dispute over apple access to Australia means a decision is not likely before next year, says Pipfruit New Zealand.
In 2007 Biosecurity Australia agreed to end an 85-year-long ban on the importation of New Zealand apples, imposed because of the risk of introducing the bacterial disease fireblight.
However it then imposed severe quarantine restrictions and Pipfruit New Zealand pressured the Government to take a case against Australia to the WTO's Disputes Settlement Board.
Last December the panel hearing the case called for expert opinions of some issues so it could make a decision by July this year.
Pipfruit New Zealand's Chairman, Ian Palmer, says there has been a delay in selecting the experts which has put back the process by several months. He says a decision is now unlikely until early 2010.