EXPORT NEWS AND OPPORTUNITIES
First U.S. table grape shipment arrives in China
Under a phytosanitary agreement signed in Beijing on May 12, California table grapes now have official access to China's market, and direct commercial shipments have commenced. On October 16, the first container of California table grapes cleared customs in Nanjing. Exports of California grapes to China were previously prohibited because of phytosanitary concerns, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. Beginning with this years crop, California grape producers in Fresno, Kern, Tulare, and Madera counties can ship grapes to China for the first time. Table grapes from other counties, notably Kings and Riverside, could be added to the agreement in the near future. With this agreement, California table grapes join Pacific Northwest apples and Washington State cherries as the only fresh fruits which can be officially exported to China.
The opening of China provides the California table grape industry a major new marketing opportunity. Despite the current high tariff, industry estimates that exports to China could reach $50 million within three years. China's current duty is 40 percent, plus 13 percent VAT. The ongoing WTO accession negotiations offer an excellent opportunity to address the high tariff for grapes, along with similar concerns for a wide range of other agricultural products. Aside from the obvious benefits to the California table grape industry, this development has potentially significant implications for other outstanding fruit access issues.
WORLD TRADE SITUATION AND POLICY UPDATES
Canada eases apple access restriction
Effective October 6, 1997, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) initiated a 2 year test market for bulk shipment apple sales that will ease its bulk shipment requirement, according to a recent report from the U.S. Agricultural Minister-Counselor's office in Ottawa. Canadian bulk shipment regulations, which had previously allowed unrestricted commercial movement of apples only in containers of 25 kilograms or less, will permit such shipments in bulk bins with a net weight up to 200 kg. In the case of apples destined for processing, Canada removed all weight restrictions under the 2 year trial.
Changing trends in the retail trade toward cost savings and bulk offerings to consumers reportedly had prompted the Canadian apple industry to request the test market application. These changes should further boost U.S. apple exports to Canada, the industry's third largest export market, especially from border states where bulk bin shipments are logistically feasible. In marketing year 1996/97 (July-June), U.S. apple exports to Canada were valued at $66 million.