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Fresh Iranian Apples Granted Market Access to China

February 27, 2023

On Feb. 21, Chinese customs authorities formally opened the China market to fresh apples imported from Iran.

The news came in the form of a Chinese-language statement published on the website of the General Administration of Customs of China, which oversees plant quarantine and phytosanitary safety for imported produce. According to the statement, all apples from Iran conforming to bilateral quarantine protocols previously agreed upon by the two countries may be imported into China effective immediately.

The content and terms of the protocols are broadly similar to those of other protocols for fresh fruits that China has signed with various countries. They stipulate that all Iranian orchards, packing plants and cold treatment facilities growing and handling apples for export to China must be jointly approved by and registered with the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture and the GACC. Orchards are also responsible for implementing good agricultural practices and integrated pest management schemes.

The protocols list 10 quarantine pests of concern: the peach fruit fly (Bactrocera zonata), Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata), Asiatic plum scale (Chlidaspis asiatica), codling moth (Cydia pomonella), Turon scale (Diaspidiotus prunorum), European pear scale (Epidiaspis leperii), fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), spotted tentiform leafminer (Phyllonorycter blancardella), apple-grass aphid (Rhopalosiphum insertum) and apple scab (Venturia inaequalis).

Furthermore, Iranian apples bound for China are required to undergo cold treatment. The allowable treatments are a pulp temperature of 1.11 degrees Celsius or lower for at least 14 consecutive days, 1.67 degrees Celsius or lower for at least 16 consecutive days, or 2.22 degrees Celsius or lower for at least 18 consecutive days.

Iranian apples entering China will be subject to spot inspections by the GACC, with the sampling rate dropping over time if the imported products are consistently found to be free of problems.

One of the world’s major apple producers, Iran has 250,000 hectares of apples under cultivation with an annual production of 3.7 million metric tons. Iranian authorities have in recent years been trying to diversify the country’s exports to decrease its reliance on petroleum products. Agricultural products are one of the key components of this initiative.

In the 2021/22 season, Iran exported a total of 884,798 metric tons of apples to 27 countries with a combined value of approximately $330 million. The main export destinations were Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan, India and the United Arab Emirates. Iran primarily exports red and yellow apples, with the key varieties including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and Cripps Pink.

Apples are the second fresh fruit category from Iran to gain market access to China, following permission being granted to several citrus items, including oranges, mandarins and sweet lemons, on Aug. 31 of last year.

According to Iranian Agriculture Minister Javad Sadatinejad, the apple deal was part of a larger agricultural products agreement that an Iranian news outlet termed as a “food diplomacy understanding.” The minister expects that Iran will export approximately 100,000 metric tons of apples to China during the first phase of the agreement. In the 10 months leading up to late January, Iran’s agricultural exports to China reached about $350 million, a fivefold increase from four years prior, stated the minister.

Image: Pixabay

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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