Rosy future predicted for Apple exports to Asia

Thursday 19 July 2012, 1:45PM
By Auckland Chamber of Commerce

In spite of the Jakarta port closure and biosecurity/compliance issues in China, apple export numbers are still growing overall into the Asian markets.

Figures show that total exports have nearly doubled from 45430 tonnes in 2004 to 88668 tonnes in 2011, with some varietal changes occurring due to specific Asian tastes.  The figures were presented earlier this month by Sue Cartwright from The Fresh Fruit Company of New Zealand (Freshco), at the combined ASEAN and China Business Leaders forum.

Ms Cartwright delivered an insightful presentation on the business' experiences exporting to Asia.

In particular she highlighted the potential of the Indonesian market – some 120 million people living on the island of Java alone, with a growing middle class and subsequent greater demands for fresher produce.

Indonesia finally signed the two year old Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in January this year, joining Australia, Brunei, Burma, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Philippines, Viet Nam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.  However the Tanjung Priok port (Jakarta) was closed to fresh produce imports from NZ on 19 June 2012, and has resulted in a waiting game until NZ is granted its Recognised Country Agreement (CRA) status.

NZ continues to deliver into Tanjung Perak port (Surabaya), but faces uncertainty from customers who have cut import volumes due to the port restrictions and concerns about extra feeder costs from Surabaya to Jakarta.

The Plants Market Access Council (PMAC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are involved and are keeping pressure on the Indonesian government about the CRA.

Meanwhile, increased biosecurity compliance requirements for mainland China has resulted a growth in export into Hong Kong.

The change has been seen in figures since mid-2008 when four exporters/packhouses had ‘quarantine pests’ present in fruit upon arrival/inspection in China (woolly apple aphid).

The then Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) worked closely with the Chinese authorities to mitigate risk, with NZ packhouses, coolstores and exporters all required to review and in most instances completely re-write their operational systems.  Chinese Authorities visited all the packhouses, coolstores and exporters involved and personally reviewed the re-written systems.  Other measures were also put in place.

Ms Cartwright said that since then, however, there has been a reluctance by growers/exporters to ‘go back’ due to registration and extra monitoring (compliance) costs.  She said no Phytosanitary certificates are required for Hong Kong, and there is a lot of movement over the ‘grey border’.  Ms Cartwright remains confident however that direct volumes to mainland China will build up over time.

New Zealand remains the only developed country with a comprehensive FTA with China.  The FTA entered into force on 1 October 2008, and in the first year of implementation New Zealand exports to China increased by NZ$1 billion to $3.5 billion. It is predicted that over time it will result in the elimination of tariffs on 96% of New Zealand exports.