Apples from USA (2018)

A review of biosecurity import requirements for fresh apple fruit (Malus domestica Borkh.) from the United States of America

We are commencing a risk analysis for fresh apple fruit (Malus domestica Borkh.) from the Pacific Northwest States (Oregon, Idaho and Washington) of the United States of America (PNW-USA).

We will conduct the risk analysis in three key steps:

  1. Announce the commencement of the risk analysis on 1 November 2018, via Biosecurity Advice 2018-29, and publish an Announcement Information Paper that provides further detail regarding this risk analysis.
  2. Conduct an assessment of pests of biosecurity concern associated with apples from PNW-USA, and release the draft report for a 60-calendar day public consultation period. The risk analysis will draw on the scientific information compiled in the ceased IRA from 2008, existing policies (including apples from China, Japan and New Zealand), and any new scientific information.
  3. Release the final report following consideration of stakeholder comments.

A summary of the risk analysis background and process are available in the fact sheet.

Purpose of the review of biosecurity import requirements

We are commencing this new risk analysis in response to a formal market access request from the United States of America (USA) to import of fresh apple fruit from the Pacific Northwest States (Oregon, Idaho and Washington) into Australia.

Australia (as a World Trade Organization (WTO) member) must meet its international obligations by assessing market access requests (import proposals) and developing the least trade restrictive and scientifically justified import conditions where required.

We conducted a preliminary assessment of potential quarantine pests associated with fresh apples from the USA. The assessment drew on scientific information compiled in the ceased IRA from 2008 existing policies, including apples from China, Japan and New Zealand, and new scientific information.

The preliminary assessment shows that the potential quarantine pests associated with fresh apples from PNW-USA include apple maggot, apple leaf curling midge, fruit/leaf roller moths, mites, thrips, mealybugs, fire blight, European canker and fruit rots. These pests are the same, or belong to the same groups of pests, as those we have assessed previously, and for which risk management measures are established.

Based on the outcome of the preliminary assessment, we will progress this risk analysis as a review of biosecurity import requirements.

History of this market access request

In 2008, we commenced a risk analysis for fresh apple fruit from the Pacific Northwest States of the USA (Biosecurity Advice 2008/06) and released a draft report in 2009 (Biosecurity Advice 2009/26) for public consultation.

This import risk analysis was progressed as an expanded Import Risk Analysis (IRA) under the Quarantine Regulations 2000.

In 2010, we ‘stopped the clock’ on the IRA using the provisions under the Quarantine Regulations 2000. This was required to allow the USA time to propose risk management measures for three fruit rots that are associated with apples from PNW-USA.

On 16 June 2016, the Quarantine Act 1908 and Quarantine Regulations 2000 were repealed and replaced by the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act) and Biosecurity Regulation 2016. As a result, the expanded IRA for fresh apple fruit from PNW-USA has ceased.

We now undertake plant import risk analyses in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act) and the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (the Regulation). If a risk analysis does not meet the criteria for a Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis (BIRA) as set out in the Act and Regulation, it is conducted as a risk analysis for the purpose of section 174 of the Act (such as a review of biosecurity import requirements).

We will conduct the new risk analysis for fresh apple fruit from PNW-USA as a review of biosecurity import requirements under the Act, as it does not meet the criteria for a BIRA.

General Information

Register as a stakeholder

We use the stakeholder register for distributing biosecurity risk analysis policy information. Stakeholders interested in receiving information and updates on biosecurity risk analyses are invited to subscribe via the department’s online subscription service. By subscribing to Biosecurity Risk Analysis Plant, you will receive Biosecurity Advices and other notifications relating to plant biosecurity policy.

Protecting Australia from exotic pests

Australia is free from many of the world’s most damaging plant pests. Exotic plant pests are capable of damaging our natural environment, destroying our food production and agriculture industries, and some could change our way of life. Australia’s biosecurity system, which includes the risk assessment process, helps protect us from exotic plant pests.

We undertake risk assessments of pests and identify risk management options to address any risks posed by these exotic pests. These measures reflect Australia’s overall approach to the management of biosecurity risk.

Zero risk is impossible. Aiming for zero risk would mean no tourists, no international travel and no imports of any commodities. Australia invests heavily in biosecurity to ensure risks are managed.

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

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

International obligations

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 Organisation 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 was agreed with all our state and territory governments and recognises that a zero-risk stance is impractical.

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

Read more about Australia’s ALOP

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.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to us at any time, even after a risk analysis has been completed. We will consider the information provided and review the analysis.

Meeting Australia’s food standards

Imported food for human consumption must satisfy Australia’s food standards. Australian law requires that all food, including imported fresh fruit, meets the standards set out in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and the requirements of the Imported Food Control Act 1992. Each state and territory also has its own food laws that must be met.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is responsible for developing and maintaining the Food Standards Code. The standards apply to all food in Australia, irrespective of whether it is grown domestically or imported.

Timing of imports

After conducting a review of scientific knowledge of pests of concern, a draft report is released for a 60 calendar day public consultation period. During this time, stakeholders are encouraged to submit technical comments on the draft report. This ensures that the final report reflects the best available science.

Following the consideration of stakeholder comments, a final report is released. The final report reflects the completion of the risk analysis. Before imports can commence we:

  • verify that a country can action the recommended risk management measures
  • publish import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON)
  • issue import permits for trade to commence.

The decision to allow imports is made when we publish import conditions on BICON.

The decision to commence imports is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in the exporting country who can meet the import conditions.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email imports or phone 1800 900 090 (option 1, option 1).