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China Gaining Access to the U.S. Apple Market?

By Amanda Brodhagen,

After more than a decade, China may soon be able to export its fresh apples to the U.S. market, under a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The proposed regulatory change would give China access to the U.S. market - under certain phytosanitary conditions. According to the July 18th rule, “this action would allow for the importation of apples from China into the continental United States while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests.”

According to analysis conducted by the USDA, if the proposal is accepted, most of China’s fresh apple exports would likely be shipped to the U.S West Coast, specifically, California. California is the largest market for apples from Washington state.

The USDA proposal says that the effects of the proposal would likely be for Washington and California apple growers, but specifically apple growers of the fuji variety, while effects on other apple growers are expected to be limited.

While some U.S. apple farmers are worried about what the proposed rule could mean for their business, U.S. government officials say that the deal could be mutually beneficial, allowing for potential expanded access to the Chinese apple market.  Comparatively, in 2012, China exported 3 per cent of its fresh apples, while the U.S. exported 30 per cent.

In 1999 China gave the U.S. permission to import red and golden delicious varieties. But since then, it has been limited access. In 2012, China shut down the U.S. apple imports because of China’s concern about post-harvest decay and disease.

The USDA suggests that the apple import volumes from China would be modest, not more than 10,000 metric tons, which is the equivalent of about 5 per cent of U.S. imports of the fresh apply market in 2012.

Comments on the proposal are due by September 16, 2014.

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