Govt examining PNG vegetable ban

Australian growers are upset over a Papua New Guinea ban on fresh vegetable imports, and the government is looking to see if it breaches trade rules.

The federal government is seeking to clarify whether Papua New Guinea's recent import ban on fresh vegetables complies with global trade rules.

PNG instituted the ban earlier in August with the aim of helping local enterprises.

"We are seeking to further clarify the PNG government's reasons for the ban, including whether these are World Trade Organisation consistent," an agriculture department spokesman told AAP on Wednesday.

Items affected include Irish potatoes, bulb onions, cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, capsicums, pumpkins, peas, zucchini, eggplant, pak choi, French beans, lettuce and celery.

The spokesman said the ban is in effect until biosecurity protocols are established.

Australia has been a safe and reliable supplier of fresh produce to PNG for a number of years without biosecurity issues, he said.

Australian produce exports to PNG totalled $3.8 million in 2014-15.

The department is in talks with its PNG counterparts to have the ban removed as soon as possible.

Horticultural body AUSVEG said it was concerned about the unexpected nature of the ban.

The timing will impact Queensland growers now in season, with southern state producers likely to be affected later in the year, it said.

Australian vegetables commanded a premium price in PNG and were usually destined for the retail sector and expatriate-staffed industries such as mining.

Source AAP

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