YAKIMA, Wash. — The roles of two trade organizations that deal with foreign market access for Washington apples are being redefined at the initiative of the Washington Apple Commission.
The Northwest Horticultural Council will handle most market access issues while Northwest Fruit Exporters will continue handling market access into Mexico and protocols or work plans for the export of apples into foreign countries, said Todd Fryhover, president of the Apple Commission in Wenatchee. The commission promotes apple exports.
NHC and NFE, both located in Yakima, have worked closely together and will continue to do so, said Chris Schlect, NHC president.
NFE will still handle Mexico, Washington’s No. 1 apple export market, because of its longtime work on trade disputes with that country. A new agreement, replacing a 1998 one, will switch the responsibility for market access concerning China, Japan, Vietnam, India, Australia, South Africa, Egypt and Israel from NFE to NHC.
The Apple Commission and NHC have approved the agreement and NFE is expected to sign on in a couple of weeks, Fryhover said.
Regaining market access to China has been a group effort and likely will remain such, “because of the importance of the market, it takes all of us to pull for a solution,” said Fred Scarlett, NFE manager.
Schlect agreed China will remain a group effort. He called it the top priority. China quit accepting U.S. Red and Golden Delicious apples in August 2012, citing postharvest disease concerns.
The agreement only involves apples but the same division of responsibility already exists by verbal agreement for pears and cherries, Schlect said.
Consolidation of market access under NHC will provide a more coordinated approach when the industry talks to members of Congress and federal agencies, Schlect said.
It was decided to keep NFE separate for the management of export protocols, including foreign inspections, in order to keep the anti-trust protection shippers have within NFE to share export information, Schlect said.
“The goal is to ship fruit overseas at a profit without interruption, to have open markets and facilitate trade,” he said.
NFE was established as a nonprofit corporation in 1985 to manage export market preparation procedures for fresh sweet cherries bound for Japan. In 1992, its role was expanded to include the export of apples to Mexico, China and Japan.
NHC was incorporated in 1947 to assist in handling problems common in the Northwest tree fruit industry. It now focuses on national and international policy issues affecting growers and shippers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.