Australia Initiates Risk Analysis for Vietnamese Pomelo Imports Amidst Biosecurity Concerns

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In response to a market access request from Vietnam, the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (DAFF) has initiated a risk analysis to assess the potential implications of importing pomelos from Vietnam into Australia. 

The analysis aims to determine if such imports could introduce harmful pests and diseases into the Australian environment and whether they would be able to establish and spread within the country.

Citrus Australia, the industry body representing citrus growers, stresses the significance of closely monitoring this risk analysis and involving technical experts to thoroughly assess and manage any potential biosecurity risks associated with Vietnamese pomelo imports.

“Citrus Australia will hold the department to a high standard throughout this process, ensuring that an exotic pest or disease incursion does not compromise the livelihoods of our hard-working growers,” said Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock.

Currently, Australia permits the importation of fresh pomelos from select countries, including the United States, Israel, Spain, and New Zealand. However, imports of this fruit have remained limited, amounting to under 2,000 tonnes between 2018 and 2022. 

In contrast, the Australian citrus industry sees pomelos as a small but emerging segment, with an annual production of approximately 1,000 tonnes across various states.

Citrus Australia acknowledges the unique challenges facing Vietnamese pomelos in the Australian market due to its niche nature and the availability of locally grown fruit. This recognition raises questions about the commercial viability of importing Vietnamese pomelos, should market access be granted.

The ongoing risk analysis will thoroughly review pests and diseases of concern, evaluating their biosecurity risks. The findings and any proposed risk management measures will be presented in a draft report expected to be released for public consultation in the first half of 2024.

Stakeholder comments received during this consultation period will play a crucial role in shaping DAFF’s final report, which will, in turn, inform the Federal Government’s decision regarding market access.

Citrus Australia, a vital contributor of A$900 million to the Australian economy each year, underscores the necessity of maintaining stringent biosecurity standards to safeguard the livelihoods of citrus growers and the citrus industry. 

Any breach of Australia’s biosecurity system could have severe repercussions, potentially jeopardizing citrus production across various regions. Maintaining rigorous standards throughout the risk analysis process is paramount to the industry’s sustainability and protection against exotic pests and diseases.

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