After almost twenty years of negotiations United States confirmed the opening of its market to citrus from Uruguay, which will become effective next 9 August when certain coordination and logistics tasks are coordinated by both countries.
The announcement was done on Wednesday by Ambassador Julissa Reynoso next to Uruguay’s Foreign affairs and Agriculture and livestock ministers Luis Almagro and Tabare Aguerre respectively.
“This is a high impact decision for the Uruguayan economy and a further stride in the close trade relations between two countries that enjoy very close bilateral links”, said ambassador Reynoso.
It is estimated that the agreement will enable Uruguay to export annually 20 million dollars of different citrus varieties benefiting 15.000 workers in the industry plus many thousands more indirectly.
“This is a very important chapter in the bilateral trade relation and an excellent example of what can be achieved if we work jointly and are committed to expand our commerce relations”, added Ambassador Reynoso.
Last February the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service had proposed amendments to regulations so as to allow citrus imports from Uruguay.
Now in a final rule, effective Aug. 9, APHIS will allow the importation of several varieties of fresh citrus fruit, as well as citrus hybrids and the citrus-related genus Fortunella, from Uruguay into the continental United States. Included are sweet oranges, lemons, four species of mandarins, and two types of kumquats.
As a condition of entry, this fruit will have to be produced in accordance with a systems approach that includes requirements for importation in commercial consignments, pest monitoring and pest control practices, grove sanitation and packinghouse procedures designed to exclude the quarantine pests, and treatment.
The fruit also will have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization of Uruguay with an additional declaration confirming that the fruit is free from all pests of quarantine concern and has been produced in accordance with the systems approach.
These actions will allow for the importation of fresh citrus fruit, including Citrus hybrids and the Citrus-related genus Fortunella, from Uruguay while continuing to protect the United States against the introduction of plant pests.
APHIS states that while the entry of fresh citrus from this new source may displace production in the U.S. as well as imports from foreign sources like Mexico, Chile, Spain and others, a sizeable displacement of fresh citrus from any source with an existing market share is unlikely given increases in domestic consumption.
APHIS adds that Uruguay ranks in the top 20 to 25 of the world’s exporters of fresh citrus but accounts for 1% or less of fresh citrus exports by variety and had a total citrus production in 2011 that was less than 3% of U.S. production.