Thailand has stopped all fresh fruit imports from SA due to a pending change to its phytosanitary import conditions. Anton Rabe, CEO of the Deciduous Fruit Producers Trust, said that even though the amount of fruit exported to Thailand is quite small, the market provides an opportunity for the industry to diversify risks. He added that could lose its market share in that country to competitors if it didn’t actively pursue the re-opening of trade between the two countries.
Alice Baxter from at the South African Department of Agriculture Directorate: Plant Health said the directorate had sent several urgent requests to its counterparts in Thailand to prevent further rejection of table grapes, apples and pears until the pest-risk analysis for these articles had been completed and a new protocol had been established. S he added that the directorate of health thought that although Thailand had given time to respond to its announcement of the changing import conditions, triggered by a domestic policy change, it should not prohibit the importing of previously allowed products without providing technical evidence and justification. “We highlighted this concern in a letter to the Thai minister of agriculture early in January this year,” she said. high-level meeting took place at the end of January between the Embassy and Thailand’s ministry of agriculture.
The Thai authorities emphasised that the phytosanitary import restrictions were aimed at preventing the spread of pests that could harm Thailand’s agriculture sector and applied to all countries, not only SA. Two of the pests that were singled out as posing a high risk and not occurring in Thailand were Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) and false codling moth (Cryptophlebia leucotreta). Mono Mashabe, SA’s agricultural attache for East Asia, subsequently visited Bangkok and played a key role in guiding the agriculture department’s actions, and in facilitating interactions with the Thai phytosanitary authorities. M ashabe conveyed their request for to prioritise the commodities for which pest information packages had been provided to the Thai phytosanitary authorities. Currently no phytosanitary certificates are being issued for prohibited articles from intended for Thailand, and none can be issued until Thailand has lifted the ban. – Glenneis Erasmus