18 May 2018
A review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh lime fruit (Citrus latifolia) from Mexico
We are conducting a risk analysis for fresh limes (Citrus latifolia) from Mexico.
We will conduct the risk analysis in three key steps:
- Announce the risk analysis on 18 May 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-09 and the Announcement Information Paper. We will conduct a scientific review of the groups of pests associated with fresh limes from Mexico.
- Release the draft report, for a 60 day public consultation period, around early 2019.
- Release the final report around late 2019, following consideration of stakeholder comments.
A summary of the review background and process is available in the fact sheet.
Purpose of this risk analysis
We are conducting this risk analysis in response to a formal market access request from Mexico for the import of limes into Australia. As a World Trade Organization member, Australia must assess market access requests and develop the least trade restrictive and the most scientifically justified import conditions. Our trading partners use the same principles when assessing Australian market access requests.
An initial assessment shows that the potential pests of concern associated with limes from Mexico are armoured scales, fruit flies, orange tortrix, mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, whitefly, Asian citrus psyllid and its associated pathogen citrus greening, two fungi, one phytoplasma and one virus. These pests are the same, or belong to the same group of pests that we have previously assessed for other horticultural commodities, and for which risk management measures are established.
With this in mind, we are conducting this risk analysis as a review of biosecurity import requirements (a non-regulated risk analysis).
Register as a stakeholder
We use the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via the department’s new online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.
Protecting Australia from exotic pests
We undertake risk assessments of pests and diseases and identify risk management options to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.
Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed.
Australia exports almost two-thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agricultural and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain its animal and plant health status.
Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve an appropriate level of protection for Australia.
All World Trade Organization (WTO) members are signatories to the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), under which they have both rights and obligations.
The basic obligations of the SPS Agreement are that SPS measures must:
- be based on a risk assessment appropriate to the circumstances or drawn from standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health and the International Plant Protection Convention
- only be applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health
- be based on science
- not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between WTO members, or be a disguised restriction on trade.
Under the SPS Agreement, each WTO Member is entitled to maintain a level of protection it considers appropriate to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory – in other words, its appropriate level of protection.
Appropriate level of protection
The appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for Australia is defined in the Biosecurity Act 2015 as ‘a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to very low, but not to zero’. This definition was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.
The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.
Read more about Australia’s ALOP
The term ‘biosecurity risk’ is used to describe the combination of the likelihood and the consequences of a pest or disease of biosecurity concern entering, establishing and spreading in Australia.
Australia's biosecurity system protects our unique environment and agricultural sector and supports our reputation as a safe and reliable trading nation. This has significant economic, environmental and community benefits for all Australians.
New scientific information
Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.
Meeting Australia’s food standards
Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Code, including Standard 1.4.2, maximum residue limits. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.
Timing of imports
The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis. Before imports can commence we will:
- verify that a country can action the recommended risk management measures
- publish import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON), and
- issue import permits for trade to commence.
The decision to import agricultural produce to Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the exporting country who can meet the import conditions.
For more information, stakeholders can email Imports
or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).