22 Apr 2009

NZ files final submissions in apple dispute

4:20 pm on 22 April 2009

The New Zealand Government has filed its final written submission to the World Trade Organisation in a long-running apple dispute with Australia.

Since 1922, Australia has refused to allow the import of apples grown in New Zealand. The dispute is now being heard by a specialist WTO panel.

Australia says three plant diseases - fire blight, European Canker and Apple Leaf Curling Midge - could devastate its apple and pear industries if New Zealand apples are allowed into the country.

New Zealand filed its initial case in June last year. A panel hearing and Australian responses have been held since then.

On Tuesday, the New Zealand Government submitted its last written case to rebut the arguments made by Australia.

Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive Peter Beaven says it contained a lot of new material in response to the Australian submissions.

The WTO is expected to hear oral submissions from the parties and scientific experts in July and issue its final report in January next year.

Despite the length of time the process is taking, Mr Beaven says he retains confidence in the system.