Extension of nectarine import risk analysis to peaches, plums and apricots from China

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) has conducted a review of the biosecurity import requirements for fresh peach (Prunus persica), plum (Prunus salicina and Prunus domestica) and apricot (Prunus armeniaca) fruit from China, for human consumption.

There were three principal steps in the review:

  • Following requests from China in 2001 and 2006, and the release of the Final report for the non-regulated analysis of existing policy for fresh nectarine fruit from China in April 2016, both Australia and China agreed to progress mutual access for other stone fruit species (peaches, plums and apricots) in May 2016 and re-affirmed this commitment in June 2017.

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Next steps

The recommendations in the final report are an administrative step and reflect the completion of the risk analysis for fresh peaches, plums and apricots from China. There are a number of other steps to be completed before imports can commence:

  • The department will verify that China can action the recommended risk management measures.
  • Import conditions will be published on the department’s Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON). Interested stakeholders can register in the BICON system and receive an alert when the case is updated.
  • A decision to import fresh peach, plum and apricot fruit from China into Australia is a commercial decision between an importer in Australia and a supplier in China who can meet the import conditions. Import permits would need to be issued for trade to commence.

Stakeholder Consultation

The department stated in the Final Report for Chinese Nectarines, that the assessment for nectarines is likely to form the basis of import requirements for similar risk commodities including peaches, plums and apricots. The stone fruit industry in Australia has been consulted and is supportive of this approach.

The draft report was released for stakeholder consultation on 1 August 2017 (Biosecurity Advice 2017/14). Six submissions were received. The majority of stakeholder submissions were supportive of the proposed risk management measures. Stakeholder comments were carefully considered in developing the final report. One stakeholder identified additional pests with potential to be on the fruit pathway and be of economic significance. The department has reviewed these additional pests and found that they are either present in Australia, not on fruit pathway, are not of economic significance, or were considered in previous risk analyses. None of these additional pests requires specific management measures.

What is a pest risk analysis?

A pest risk analysis is the process of evaluating evidence to determine: whether an organism is a pest, if the pest should be regulated, and the strength of any phytosanitary measures to be taken against it to manage biosecurity risk.

If the risks posed by the pest exceed Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP), the analysis will specify that the import will not proceed, unless appropriate measures have been identified that will reduce those risks to achieve the ALOP.

This pest risk analysis considers the risk of a pest associated with an import pathway, along with any sanitary and phytosanitary measures that could address this risk.

Considerations during a review of biosecurity import requirements

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 Organization 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 has been reached with the agreement of all state and territory governments and recognises that a zero risk stance is impractical because this would mean Australia would have no tourists, no international travel and no imports.

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

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.

Identifying risk

A risk analysis is an examination of the potential biosecurity risks associated with an import of animals, plants or other goods into Australia. It plays an important role in protecting Australia’s biosecurity.

If the assessed level of biosecurity risk exceeds the ALOP for Australia, the department will consider whether there are any risk management measures that would reduce the biosecurity risk to achieve the ALOP. If there are no risk management measures that reduce the risk to that level, trade will not be allowed.

New scientific information

Scientific information can be provided to the department at any time, including after a risk analysis has been completed. The department will consider the information provided and will review the analysis.

Contact information

For more information, stakeholders can email Plant Stakeholders or phone +61 2 6272 5094.