The government does not have a double standard for China and New Zealand when responding to bans on Taiwanese fruit, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday, adding that anyone making such an accusation is ignorant of international trade regulations.
On Sunday, Chen said that Beijing’s ban on imports of wax apples and custard apples from Taiwan was “unacceptable,” vowing to settle the dispute through the WTO should Beijing continue to ignore requests for trade negotiations.
However, some people accused Chen of applying a different standard when Wellington in June banned imports of lychees and mangoes from Taiwan due to pest concerns, at which time he said that he “respected” the New Zealand government’s decision.
Those who have accused the government of having double standards are completely ignorant of regulations governing international trade, Chen wrote on Facebook.
Rules governing exports and imports of animals and plants between two countries are stipulated through bilateral negotiations, he said.
“For example, we have agreed that lychees exported to New Zealand must be steamed at 46.5°C for 20 minutes. After we were notified about the pest concerns in June, both countries began to negotiate a solution to the issue. Exports of Taiwanese lychees and mangoes to New Zealand will resume once an agreement is reached,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the Taitung County Government
However, China has not responded to Taiwan’s negotiation requests, not for the pineapple import ban in March, or the recent ban on wax apples and custard apples, Chen said, adding that Beijing’s consistent breach of international trade regulations is unacceptable.
“Taiwan and New Zealand are following international trade regulations and settling the dispute through proper procedures. We seek to enforce inspection and quarantine measures based on scientific evidence, while minimizing damage to bilateral trade,” Chen said.
“However, China has been ambushing us by unilaterally banning imports of pineapples, wax apples and custard apples, which all took effect the day after the announcement. China simply issued announcements not backed by any objective evidence,” he said.
Photo courtesy of the Kaohsiung City Government
China claimed that citrus mealybugs were found in wax and custard apples from Taiwan, but such pests exist in Taiwan, China and other Asian countries, Chen said.
Fruits found to have citrus mealybugs are allowed into a country as long as they are fumigated with methyl bromide, he said.
Only China uses the discovery of citrus mealybugs to block exports of Taiwan’s agricultural products, he said.
Wellington reported discoveries of oriental fruit flies, which lay eggs and parasitize fruits, Chen said, adding that adult fruit flies can fly and have a high risk of spreading.
Mealybugs have a lower risk of spreading and they do not affect the inside of fruits, Chen said.
“Plant inspection and quarantine is a scientific issue, not a political issue. China should quickly respond to our requests for negotiations, or we will have no other recourse but to settle the dispute through the WTO mechanism,” he said.
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