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Non-regulated analysis of existing policy for table grapes from Sonora, Mexico

​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has completed the final report for the non-regulated analysis of existing policy relating to a proposal to import table grapes from Sonora, Mexico, into Australia.

There were three principal steps in the non-regulated analysis process;

A final report on the non-regulated analysis of existing policy for table grapes from Sonora, Mexico is now available.

The completion of a scientific risk analysis is not a decision to start trade. The Department will continue to work with Mexico’s national plant protection organisation to finalise specific risk management measures for table grape imports from Sonora. These measures will be published on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions Database (BICON) at the appropriate time.

Any importation of table grapes from Sonora, Mexico into Australia will then be a commercial decision between an Australian importer and Mexican supplier who can meet the import conditions.

If new scientific information becomes available, it can be provided to the department for consideration at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and can change or suspend import requirements based on this new scientific information.

Stakeholder consultation

The department liaised with stakeholders during the consultation period to address any concerns and provide information about the process.

Five submissions were received and considered in the preparation of the final report.

New scientific information will be considered at any time. Contact Plant Biosecurity or phone +61 2 6272 5094.

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Final Report - Quarantine and pests of human health concern

The final report for the risk analysis for table grapes from Sonora, Mexico, identifies 19 quarantine pests which require risk management measures. Out of these 19 pests, 18 are arthropods and one is a fungal pathogen.

The 18 arthropods are:

  • Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
  • Glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis)
  • Green sharpshooter (Draeculacephala minerva)
  • Blue-green sharpshooter (Graphocephala atropunctata)
  • Grapevine mealybug (Planococcus ficus)
  • Pacific mealybug (Planococcus minor)
  • Comstock mealybug (Pseudococcus comstocki)
  • Jack Beardsley mealybug (Pseudococcus jackbeardsleyi)
  • American grape mealybug (Pseudococcus maritimus)
  • Omnivorous leafroller (Platynota stultana)
  • Kanzawa spider mite (Tetranychus kanzawai)
  • Bean thrips (Caliothrips fasciatus)
  • Grape thrips (Drepanothrips reuteri)
  • Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis)
  • South American fruit fly (Anastrepha fraterculus)
  • Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata)
  • Spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii)
  • Grapevine phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae).

The one fungal pathogen is black rot (Guignardia bidwellii).

The final report also identifies two spiders of human health concern that require risk management measures. These two spiders are the yellow sac spider (Cheiracanthium inclusum) and the black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus).

Recommended risk management measures

The final report recommends a range of risk management measures to reduce the biosecurity risk, including:

  • Visual inspection and, if detected, remedial action for the ladybird, sharpshooters, mealybugs, moth, spider mite and thrips
  • Area freedom, irradiation or cold treatment for fruit flies
  • Area freedom, irradiation, methyl bromide fumigation, systems approach approved by the department or combined sulphur dioxide/carbon dioxide fumigation followed by cold treatment for spotted wing drosophila
  • Area freedom, sulphur pads or combined sulphur dioxide/carbon dioxide fumigation for grapevine phylloxera
  • Area freedom or systems approach approved by the department for black rot
  • Systems approach approved by the department or combined sulphur dioxide/carbon dioxide fumigation for spiders
  • A supporting operational system to maintain and verify the phytosanitary status of export consignments.

Regional differences for Australian states and territories

Two pests of quarantine concern for Western Australia (Pacific mealybug and Kanzawa spider mite) and one for the Northern Territory (Western flower thrips) were identified that require risk management measures. The recommended risk management measures take account of these regional differences.

Meeting Australia’s food laws

All food sold in Australia must satisfy Australia’s food laws. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, adheres to the food laws of each state and territory, and meets the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992.

Australia’s table grape imports and exports

Australia allows the importation of table grapes for human consumption from Chile, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the USA (California) provided they meet Australia’s import requirements. Trade currently only occurs from the USA (California—counter seasonal and considerable trade since 2002) and Korea (counter seasonal and small quantities since 2014.

Currently, table grapes are Australia’s second-largest fruit and nut export, behind almonds, having over 50 per cent of production exported.

The total export value has grown from $109 million in 2011/12 to $367 million in 2015/16 with a total export volume of 110 000 tonnes. Key markets include Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

Mexico’s table grape exports

During 2010 to 2014, Mexico exported between 137 000 and 171 000 tonnes of table grapes per year to around 16 countries. Ninety eight percent of Mexico’s exported table grapes go to the United States of America. Other export markets include Brazil, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Japan, New Zealand and Venezuela.

Non-regulated analysis of existing policy

A non-regulated analysis of existing policy is a process used by the department to consider an import proposal when most of the potential quarantine pests of concern identified are the same as or similar to quarantine pests for which import policies currently exist. These analyses are comprehensive reviews of existing import requirements and new science.

If the risks posed by an import proposal exceed the appropriate level of protection for Australia, the analysis will specify that the import will not proceed, unless appropriate measures have been identified that will reduce those risks to an acceptable level.

Australia has existing import policy for table grapes from Chile, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the USA (California). Research identified that the majority of pests associated with table grapes from Sonora, Mexico, are the same as or similar to those previously assessed.

Considerations during a non-regulated analysis of existing policy

The analysis considers the risks of pests and diseases associated with the proposed import along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address these risks.

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 Organization 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 has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.

The ALOP is a broad objective, and risk management measures are established to achieve that objective.

Biosecurity risk

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.

Identifying risk

A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.

If the assessed level of biosecurity risk exceeds the ALOP for Australia, the department will consider whether there are any risk management measures that would reduce the biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and will review the import policy.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

A comprehensive risk assessment of pests and diseases has been undertaken and risk management options have been recommended to address any risks of exotic pests and diseases. Any recommended measures will reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible; it would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed to the lowest possible level.

Australia exports almost two thirds of its agricultural produce. The future of our agriculture and food industries, including their capacity to contribute to growth and jobs, depends on Australia’s capacity to maintain a good plant and animal health status.

Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia.

Starting imports

After the completion of the risk analysis, if finalised risk management measures achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia, they will then be translated into specific import conditions. These conditions will be published on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions Database (BICON) at the appropriate time.

Importation of table grapes from Sonora, Mexico, will be a commercial decision between an Australian importer and a Mexican supplier, who can meet the import conditions.

Contact Information

For more information, stakeholders can email Plant Biosecurity or phone +61 2 6272 5094.

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