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Protectionism upsets the apple cart between Australia-New Zealand

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Protectionism upsets the apple cart between Australia-New Zealand article image

With the first shipment of New Zealand apples about to hit Australian shores, Australian farmers are adamant the end of a 90-year ban on apple imports will devastate local industry. But Trade Minister Craig Emerson has warned Australia will be "dead in the water" if it returns to protectionism and fails to embrace free market principles. Australian apple farmers fear the imports will put Australian crops at risk of imported diseases and push down the price of apples across the market. Biosecurity Australia has drawn up guidelines to prevent threats to quarantine. Under the rules, only commercially mature fruit that has been sprayed with high-pressure water will be allowed into the country. Nationals MP John Cobb plans to take a bill to federal parliament next week which would overrule the agreement to allow New Zealand apples into Australia. However, the New Zealand Trade Minister told the Australian Financial Review any moves back to protectionism on the part of the Australian government could spark a trade war. Tim Groser said New Zealand would have to consider implementing the "nuclear option" of retaliatory action. He also warned Australia that any move to defy the World Trade Organisation’s ruling would set a precedent which could have repercussions beyond the Australia-New Zealand disagreement over apple imports.

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