This weekend, the USDA reached agreement with Chinese officials to allow all U.S. grown apples to gain access to the Chinese market.
This will allow a greater share of U.S. apple exports to China in the coming months and has the potential to increase U.S. fresh apple exports, which were valued at more than $1 billion in 2013, by approximately 10%.
“Our growers produce premium-quality apples of many varieties, and this year’s record crop makes it even more exciting to see a new export market open up. But, what our industry has had to do — and will need to continue doing — is assure those growers’ best interests are considered both abroad in new markets like China and here in the domestic market where other apples could in turn be brought in,” said Jim Bair, President and CEO of U.S. Apple Association (USApple).
With this new agreement, the apple industry estimates that within two years, exports to China will reach 5 million bushels annually, a value of nearly $100 million per year. The agreement was reached during bilateral discussions between USDA and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in San Francisco.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement regarding this announcement:
“USDA values the relationship we are forging with China to bring mutually-beneficial food and agricultural trade to Americans and Chinese alike. The new access for American exports we’re announcing today is the culmination of decades of hard work by USDA staff.
“These efforts will result in high quality, fresh U.S. apple varieties available for consumers in China and a significant boost in sales for American apple producers.
“USDA remains a strong partner and advocate in the international marketplace, working with foreign governments and international organizations to ensure the smooth and safe flow of international trade.
“The past six years have been the strongest in history for agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $771.7 billion since 2009. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, and boost economic growth.
”As the president said in his recent State of the Union address, we now look to Congress build on this success and pass a bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority bill to continue to support a robust trade agenda that will create thousands of new American jobs.”
One of the greatest concerns among U.S. growers regarding imports has been the potential introduction of foreign pests and diseases into our orchards. Nearly 15 years ago, USApple and NHC formed the Tree-Fruit Technical Advisory Council (TreeTAC), a coalition of expert scientists from the top-producing states charged with safeguarding the U.S. tree fruit industry from potential pest and disease threats. The TreeTAC scientists reviewed China’s import request at every step in the lengthy process to ensure U.S. growers would be protected.
Source: USDA, USApple news releases