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Australia Bans Imports of U.S. Fruit

October 30, 1998| From Bloomberg News

Australia banned imports of fresh fruit from the U.S. because of a Mexican fruit fly outbreak in Southern California.

The government suspended imports of U.S. grapefruit, kiwi, persimmon and other fresh fruit as "a precautionary measure" until the risk posed by the infestation can be assessed. Fruit already headed for Australia will be held in quarantine upon arrival.

U.S. exports of fresh fruit were valued at $2.1 billion last year. Of that amount, $9.1 million worth of fruit, or 0.4% of the total, was shipped to Australia.

"It's not going to have a huge economic impact," said Claire H. Peters, a spokeswoman for Sunkist Growers Inc. The Sherman Oaks-based growers' cooperative shipped 280,000 cartons of citrus, mostly navel oranges, to Australia last year, or 13% of its total exports of 2.1 million cartons.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are sending information on the infestation to Australia, hoping the suspension will be confined to fruit from a limited area, probably San Diego County.

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