New Zealand wins WTO appeal over Australian apple ban

Category: WTO Sub-category: World Trade Organisation
Document type: news

25 Dec, 2010

The World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has adopted a modified report prepared by the Appellate Body pertaining to Australian measures affecting the importation of apples from New Zealand. In a previous ruling, the Appellate Body had upheld an earlier panel ruling finding the nearly 90-year Australian ban on the importation of apples from New Zealand to be inconsistent with Australia's WTO obligations. The WTO had ruled in favor of New Zealand and cited that Australia's restrictions were unscientific and were in non-compliance with international trade rules.

On 21st January 2008, a dispute panel was established to consider a complaint by New Zealand concerning several Australian measures affecting the importation of apples from New Zealand. The panel had handed down a report on 9th August this year holding that Australia's measures against apples from New Zealand's were inconsistent with Australia's WTO obligations. The panel had requested Australia to bring itself in compliance with the SPS Agreement. According to the recommendations of the Appellate Body, the DSB was asked to request Australia to bring its measures in consistence with the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).

Australia had imposed the restriction on imports of apples from New Zealand in the year 1921 in order to protect local apple trees from fire blight, a pest that also affects pear trees and rose bushes. However, New Zealand argued that the restrictions were unscientific. Australia had appealed the ruling to protect Australian agriculture from health risks.

According to estimates by officials of New Zealand, lifting the Australian ban could boost apple exports by NZ$30 million ($22.4 million) over two to three years from NZ$400 million in 2009. Another study had found that the ban on apple imports had raised the price of apples in Australia. The study, backed by New Zealand's apple growers' association, Pipfruit, said Australia had the second most expensive apples in the world, after japan, and the restrictions had effectively transferred A$2 billion ($1.93  billion) to Australian growers from consumers between 2001-02 and 2007-08.