U.S. protests ban on fruit imports

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The U.S. government has lodged a protest with the Indonesian Agriculture Ministry for its decision to ban the importation of several types of fruit from the U.S.

The director of the ministry's quarantine agency, Syukur Iwantoro, said Tuesday that the U.S. had lodged its complaints during a World Trade Organization meeting on sanitary and phytosanitary measures in Geneva recently.

He acknowledged that the Indonesian government had banned the entry of several types of fruit from the U.S. on the grounds that they carried pests that could pose a serious threat to Indonesian crops.

"The regulations do not forbid the importation of any fruit from any country provided that the fruit is free of pests that do not exist in Indonesia and that can cause serious damage," Syukur said.

"Should these pests enter Indonesia, given our particular climate, the could develop into a much more serious threat for our crops and jeopardize our exports," he stressed.

Syukur said that information on both indigenous and non-indigenous pests affecting American fruit had been delivered to the government's quarantine agency for further analysis.

"Among the non-indigenous pests is the med fly. It usually feeds on grapes and can be found in California, while the indigenous pests include apple maggots," he said

"The apple maggot is a major pest, and usually affects crops in Washington state, Oregon and Idaho," he said.

Syukur explained that fruit carrying pests could be treated in line with the pest-free area program under the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM).

"If the measures taken under the program do not work, then we can try other measures, such as heating, frosting or fumigation," he said.

He explained that even though Indonesia had succeeded to date in fighting imported pests through the pest-free area program, it would still be necessary for the ministry to send a special team to conduct field tests in the U.S.A.

"We will send a team of experts to the U.S. to carry out field verifications on the pests affecting grapes and apples that are to be exported to Indonesia," he said.

He said that the team would depart after the U.S. had supplied the necessary information, such as the locations to be visited.

Syukur also said that the U.S. was not operating a pest-free area program as required under the ISPM. Therefore, U.S. apples could not enter Indonesia until they were treated through heating, frosting or fumigation.
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