Many countries require imported plants and plant products to meet specific phytosanitary standards to minimise the risk of introducing foreign plant pests, weeds and disease.
A working knowledge of importing country requirements is fundamental to the role of an AQIS authorised officer.
The following information, together with the volume, Phytosanitary Certification Overview, provides underpinning knowledge of importing country requirements relevant to the export of plants and plant products covered by Plant Export Operations Branch.
The PHYTO Database
It is important to know that depending on the commodity to be exported, and to which country, the export requirements will vary. Exporters must check importing country requirements to see if the commodity is permitted to be imported into that country and to find out about any special conditions that need to be met.
For example, some overseas plant protection authorities require an import permit.
Exporters may wish to obtain this information from the importer or seek this information directly from the importing country's plant protection organisation.
If a consignment does not meet importing country requirements the goods may be rejected entry into the country. Exporters need to be aware that importing country requirements change, often at short notice, and therefore are advised to check conditions regularly.
To assist exporters in ascertaining importing country requirements for grain and plant products AQIS maintains an export conditions database known as PHYTO.
PHYTO is available to all exporters and is maintained by the Department and located on the AQIS website and a downloadable users-guide is available on the website. The database includes plants and plant products which includes, but is not limited to, fresh fruit, vegetables, nursery stock, cut flowers & foliage, seeds, grains, stockfeed and timber from Australia.
PHTYO is a simple and convenient reference tool detailing the requirement for Import Permits, Phytosanitary Certificates, Additional Declarations and/or treatments, and also any other relevant export information and documentation.
Please be aware that the information in PHYTO is intended as a guide only and should not be taken as definitive or exhaustive. While all reasonable efforts are made by AQIS to ensure that the presented information is accurate, it may be subject to change without notice.
Exporters should make their own inquiries in relation to the importing country's requirements, and are encouraged to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Plant Protection Office of the importing country, and also with other regulatory and advisory bodies prior to and after export.
PHYTO Importing Country Requirements
The PHYTO database provides the following information specific to each importing country and commodity, for example, wheat being exported to China includes information such as:
- Whether an import permit is mandatory
- Whether a phytosanitary certificate must be issued
- If additional declaration(s) are to be endorsed on the phytosanitary certificate
- If any post-entry quarantine processes apply.
In addition, PHTYO provides information relating to any importing country requirement for additional government certificates.
For example, an importing country may specify that the consignment be accompanied with a Declaration and Certificate as to Condition, or a Certificate as to Condition (no declaration included) and/or a Radiation Certificate (provides certification regarding the radioactivity status of the commodity) in addition to a phytosanitary certificate.
Details regarding additional government certificates are covered under documentation and include links to the approved certificates.
Overview of Australia - NZ Bilateral Quarantine Arrangement (BQA)
The New Zealand Bilateral Quarantine Arrangement (NZ BQA) is a formal agreement between the Australian Government Department of Agriculture Fisheries & Forestry and the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to ensure New Zealand's pre-export requirements are documented.
This agreement is formalised in a Systems Operational Manual (SOM) that ensures all parties are aware of their responsibilities when exporting fruit fly host commodities to New Zealand.
The NZ BQA SOM includes a series of treatment appendices that describe the requirements for a particular treatment for pests on a commodity-by-commodity basis, and incorporates developments in relation to the documentation of New Zealand Import Health Standards (IHS).
The NZBQA SOM is designed to ensure:
- only approved fruit fly host commodities are exported to New Zealand
- homogeneity of fruit fly host commodity consignments
- approved treatments for fruit fly host produce are used
- required levels and intensity of inspection of fruit fly host produce are maintained
- post treatment security to eliminate cross contamination, reinfestation and potential substitution of legitimate export produce
- trace back to grower/packer/treatment centre (as appropriate)
- accurate phytosanitary certification in accordance with New Zealand requirements.
AQIS Regional Offices and State Departments of Agriculture (or equivalents) are to conduct management audits of the systems to ensure state responsibilities are being adequately performed and recorded.
The SOM also provides instructions for audit procedures and maintenance of records that will be the responsibility of AQIS Regional Offices, and where applicable State Departments of Agriculture or their equivalents.
Related legislation and Instructional material
AQIS authorised officers must have a sound understanding of current legislation and instructional material and be confident that they know where to find additional information when needed.
The instructional material includes components of this manual that relate to work instructions, standard operating procedures and guidance documents.
Officers must establish underpinning knowledge of all policy relating to the export of plants and plant products. This policy is included in the manual under commodity inspections for horticulture and grain.
In contrast, officers are not expected to establish similar underpinning knowledge of work instructions, standard operating procedures or guidance documents.
Protocol and Non-Protocol Work plans (horticulture)
Protocol workplans detail the requirements for the export of specific horticultural goods to specific countries. For example, 'China Citrus Workplan 2010' prescribes the detail that exporters must meet to export citrus to China in 2010.
All workplans, protocol or not, are accessed through the Commodity inspection-horticulture volume of this manual.
Individual workplans clearly indicate any general inclusions, and specific requirements such as import permits, permitted varieties, pests, diseases, packaging, labelling and container requirements in addition to outlining responsibilities for AQIS, growers, pack-houses and treatment providers.
Other Government and Non-Government Documents
An importing country may also require a protocol to be established where specific requirements are to be met, for example, wheat and barley to China. In this instance AQIS and China have agreed in advance the import conditions for wheat and barley being exported from Australia to China to ensure confidence in trade and transparency in import conditions.
Any such document or protocol will be included in the respective commodity inspection volumes.
Relevant eLearning Modules
- Export Inspections: Importing Country Requirements
- You can contact the AQIS Regional Plant Exports Program Manager to clarify any aspects of this volume in the first instance.
- You can also direct a specific question or provide feedback to Plant Exports Training.
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