YAKIMA, Wash. — China may accept U.S. Red and Golden Delicious apples again early next year if negotiations continue to go well, the president of a Pacific Northwest trade groups says.
Progress was made during annual bilateral phytosanitary talks between the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and China’s Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine the week of Nov. 4 in China, said Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima.
“There are several steps to be taken, including site visits by the Chinese, but if all goes well conceivably early next year the market could open,” Schlect said.
“There’s a lot to be done between now and then. Snags could develop. On first blush it looks like an achievable goal, but I don’t want to be too optimistic or pessimistic,” he said. “There is no guarantee of anything.”
The reopening would be for Red and Golden Delicious, which are the only U.S. varieties China has ever accepted. The Washington apple industry, which accounts for the vast majority of U.S. apple exports, is working to gain access for all varieties.
China stopped importing U.S. apples Aug. 9, 2012, citing detection of post-harvest diseases that its wants kept out of its own apples, but Washington industry officials believe the real reason for the closure was to pressure the U.S. into accepting Chinese Fuji apples into the U.S.
The bilateral talks included other issues, not just apples. That progress was made was informally indicated by APHIS officials, Schlect said. His vice president of scientific affairs, Mike Willett, was at the meetings as an adviser.
Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s Nov. 11-18 trade mission to China also was to touch on the issue and Inslee was scheduled to promote Northwest pears recently allowed into China.
Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission in Wenatchee, was on the governor’s trade mission. He said he could not comment about the possibility of China reopening until APHIS releases a statement. Washington typically shipped about 500,000 boxes of apples annually into China before the closure.
Dan Cowin, Stemilt Growers truck driver, throws strap over back bins of load of Cripps Pink apples department Highlander Ochard, near Wenatchee, Wash., Nov. 4. The Washington apple industry is working to get Red and Golden Delicious apples into China again and eventually all varieties.