The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it is hoping to resolve technical issues with China concerning plant quarantines based on WTO norms, following Beijing’s ban on the importation of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan.
Chinese customs authorities on Sunday said that the country would suspend the importation of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan starting on Monday, citing mealybug infestations in shipments of those fruits on “multiple occasions” this year, without providing any other details.
Asked what Taiwan could do to help local growers affected by the ban other than providing subsidies and promoting domestic sales, COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said there is precedent for handling such issues with Beijing.
Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times
For example, China suspended the importation of longan from some Thailand-based 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 additional documentation, Chen said.
Based on that model, Chen said he hopes that Taiwan and China can address the dispute based on WTO norms.
The agency told Chinese authorities on Sunday that it hoped the two sides could exchange views on technical issues related to animal and plant quarantines, Chen said.
However, it remains unclear how willing Beijing would be to engage in such an exchange, given the state of cross-strait relations and the lack of communication over China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples in late February.
Shortly after China’s announcement, Chen had said that the council might take the wax apple and custard apple case to the WTO.
However, he stopped short of reiterating that statement yesterday.
He said that the council had put other measures in place in response to the ban, including a plan to develop new marketing channels for domestic sales and exports through an e-commerce platform.
Moreover, the council later yesterday was to hold forums with local growers in Kaohsiung, and Taitung and Pingtung counties to explain its strategy to strike a balance between production and sales, he said.
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