Vietnam to suspend Australian fruit imports over fruit fly concerns

By Phan Hau, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam imported more than 2,000 tons of fresh fruit -- mostly apple, pear, grape and cherry -- from Australia in the first ten months of this year. Vietnam imported more than 2,000 tons of fresh fruit -- mostly apple, pear, grape and cherry -- from Australia in the first ten months of this year.

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Vietnam, an A$40 million fruit market of Australia, will suspend the import of all 38 fresh fruit varieties from this country starting from January 1 due to fruit fly concerns.
This decision aims to prevent the fruit fly outbreak in Australia from spreading to Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Hong, Director of the Plant Protection Department under the agricultural ministry, told Thanh Nien on Tuesday.
Vietnam informed concerned Australian authorities of the suspension 60 days before the effective day, which is in line with international rules, Hong said.
As for Australian fruit shipments being on the way to arrive in Vietnam, the Plant Protection Department has required quarantine agencies at border gates to strengthen scrutiny, he said.
Hong also said Vietnam will reopen its door for fresh fruit from Australia as soon as this country controls the fruit fly outbreak.
Vietnam imported more than 2,000 tons of Australian fruit -- mostly apple, pear, grape and cherry -- in the first ten months of this year.
Earlier this year, Australia has lost access to Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia amid fruit fly concerns, Australian news website ABC reported Tuesday.
“Australian officials are in Vietnam trying to regain access as soon as possible,” ABC said, quoting a statement from the Australian agriculture department.
"The Vietnamese market is worth over [A]$32 million to the table grape industry so it's important that this gets resolved before our harvest season starts in the first week of January," the news website quoted Australian Table Grape Association chief executive Geoff Scott as saying.
Scott remains confident that Australia's current pest and disease management strategies are appropriate.
“We believe we have very strong, robust mitigation processes, it's been accepted by a number of countries worldwide," Scott told ABC, "It's now a case of sitting down and discuss(ing) these with the Vietnamese for them to accept it."
If that doesn't eventuate, Scott is predicting a glut of grapes domestically in early 2015 which he says would cause “enormous heartache to our growers.”

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