Taipei Times:- Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns.
China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan.
It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today.
China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan and China.
“We cannot accept this,” Chen said, adding that his office had only received notice of China’s decision at 9am yesterday.
Taiwan has told China that it would take the matter to the WTO if Beijing does not respond to Taipei’s request to resolve the issue under their existing bilateral framework before Thursday next week, he added.
The council would earmark NT$1 billion (US$36.05 million) to help promote domestic sales of wax and custard apples, and expand their sales to other overseas markets, Chen said.
Other measures would include extending the harvest time for the fruits, which usually begins in December, to enable farmers to sell them for a longer period, he added.
The mealybug in question is present in many Asian countries, Chen said, adding that as they are usually found on the surface of fruits, a common practice by the importing country is to fumigate the fruit with methyl bromide, so the shipments can clear customs.
During the first half of this year, China notified Taiwan about mealybugs found in 13 shipments of custard apples and six shipments of wax apples, but did not provide any scientific proof, Chen said, adding that there had been no reports of mealybugs in July and last month.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) condemned the move on Facebook last night, saying that the government would assist and protect farmers in the face of the “unreasonable market interference.”
(Read more at:-https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/09/20/2003764659)