Taiwan hoping to use WTO norms to solve China fruit import ban

09/22/2021 03:51 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Council of Agriculture (COA) said Wednesday it is hoping to resolve technical plant quarantine issues with China based on World Trade Organization norms following Beijing's ban on Taiwanese custard apples and wax apples.

China's customs administration on Sunday said that it would suspend imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan starting Monday due to the presence of mealybugs in shipments of those fruits on "multiple occasions" this year, without providing any other details.

When asked what Taiwan could do to help local farmers in the wake of the ban other than providing subsidies and promoting domestic sales, COA chief Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said there were precedents for handling plant quarantine disputes with China.

China, for example, suspended imports of longan from certain Thai packaging companies in March and again on Aug. 13, but it lifted the ban on some of those companies on Aug. 17 after Thailand provided relevant statistics, Chen said.

Based on that model, Chen hoped Taiwan and China could address the dispute using WTO norms, he said.

The COA told China's customs administration on Sunday it hoped the two sides could exchange views on technical issues related to animal and plant quarantines, Chen said.

It is unclear, however, how willing Beijing would be to engage in such an exchange, given the frigid state of cross-Taiwan Strait relations and the lack of communications to date over China's ban of pineapples from Taiwan in late February.

Chen had said shortly after China's announcement that the COA was considering taking the wax apple and custard apple case to the WTO, but he stopped short of saying that Wednesday.

According to the COA chief, his agency has put other measures in place in response to the ban, including developing various types of marketing channels for domestic sales and exports, such as setting up an e-commerce platform.

In addition, the COA was to hold forums with local farmers later Wednesday in Taitung, Pingtung and Kaohsiung to explain its strategy to strike a balance between production and sales, he said.

(By Lin Yu-shuan and Evelyn Kao)

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