Fruit Ban Overturned
Australia’s 89-year ban on imports of New Zealand apples is illegal, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled, ordering Canberra to comply with international commerce law. In a 548-page verdict, the WTO rejected Australia’s arguments that the apple restrictions are necessary to keep out pests and diseases. The ban was first imposed in 1921 to prevent the spread to Australian trees of fire blight — a disease that damages apple trees and reduces their ability to produce fruit. Although the apple issue is an irritant, the South Pacific neighbours have one of the most open economic relationships of any two countries. They traded merchandise valued at more than $12 billion last year. New Zealand claims the apple trade in Australia could be worth up to $6.2 million a year.