WORLD TRADE SITUATION AND POLICY UPDATES
New Zealand moves closer to privatizing Kiwifruit Marketing Board
Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ) is likely to be the first of New Zealand's statutory producer boards to transform itself into a grower-owned private company, according to a recent report from the U.S. Agricultural Attache in Wellington. Formerly known as the Kiwifruit Marketing Board, KNZ has undergone significant change over the past two years as it implemented recommendations made in the 1995 Industry Review. Full corporatization of KNZ will require an amendment to the Primary Products Marketing Act, an action the KNZ hopes to have completed by April 1, 1999. Last year, New Zealand was the world's largest kiwifruit producer and exporter, accounting for 28 percent of total world production and 38 percent of world exports.
Japan lettuce & tomato team examines access and marketing problems
Under an initiative developed by the U.S. Agricultural Minister-Counselor's office in Tokyo, two high-level Japanese produce import representatives visited the United States from October 31-November 9 to focus on marketing opportunities in Japan for lettuce and tomatoes. They were accompanied by an FAS Agricultural Attache and FAS Agricultural Specialist. The team visited lettuce production areas in California and Arizona, and met with industry leaders to explore ways of addressing and minimizing the ongoing fumigation problem. The team then traveled to Florida to visit tomato-producing areas and discuss with industry representatives procedures for raising the overall quality of product which is being delivered to the Japanese market. Advances on both the lettuce and tomato issues could lead to significant increases in exports to Japan of these high value products.
Egyptian agreement with Lebanon on apple imports
FAS has received reports that the Egyptian government has reached an agreement with Lebanon to allow Lebanese apple exports into the Egyptian market at a zero tariff starting January 1, 1999. Lebanon will reciprocate by allowing Egypt to resume its potato exports. U.S. exporters are concerned that this tariff exemption will have serious implications for U.S. apple exports to Egypt, which have been steadily growing in the last few years. Currently, Egypt applies a 55 percent tariff on fresh apples of all origins. With a zero tariff, Lebanese apples are expected to have a significant competitive price advantage over U.S. apples. U.S. apple exports to Egypt in MY 1997/98 totaled 4,630 tons, valued at $2.7 million, increasing more than 400 percent since MY 1993/94.
U.S. apple industry to pursue apple juice concentrate antidumping case
The U.S. Apple Association's Board of Trustees endorsed on November 18 a proposal to proceed with preparing an antidumping case against foreign suppliers of low-cost apple juice concentrate. The association is now in the process of forming the "Coalition for Fair Apple-Juice Concentrate Trade," which will fund and direct the process of developing and filing the antidumping petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce. According to Census Bureau data, imports of apple juice concentrate from China totaled 29 million gallons for the period January-September 1998, 100 percent more than the same period last year. On the other hand, import prices for Chinese product have decreased from an average of $1.40 per gallon in 1997 to 67 cents per gallon in 1998. Other countries, such as Hungary, Chile, and Argentina, have also lowered their prices, presumably in an effort to maintain their share of the American market against lower-priced competition. Several U.S. apple-juice processing plants have reportedly been forced to cease operations in recent months, including plants in North Carolina and New York.