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Export from EU | Brussels, 8 October 2014

Canada opens market for Belgian pears

As of October 2014, Belgian pear producers will be able to export their produce to Canada. The welcome news was announced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The opening of the Canadian market will bring some relief to Belgian pear producers, who have been hard hit by the closure of the Russian market.

The move comes after a direct intervention from the European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht in Ottawa at the end of September and a joint effort by the Belgian industry and the Belgian government. Similar approvals already exist for producers in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and The Netherlands. For an initial trial period, Canadian authorities will check all imports of Belgian pears at the Canadian border. This limits the commercial viability of the trade, but the European Union appreciates that Canada has accelerated the approval process in light of this situation.

All Member States interested to export fruit and vegetables to Canada must undergo a long and tedious approval process, one by one. Belgium filed an application for export with the Canadian authorities in 2010. To evaluate the Belgian application, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency undertook a detailed pest risk assessment even though trade in fruit from nearby orchards in France and The Netherlands had already been approved. On the basis of the assessment, detailed protocols had to be agreed between the parties to exclude any risks to Canadian domestic horticulture.

In summer 2014 Russia's sudden trade embargo against EU pears – imposed for entirely political reasons and in flagrant violation of the World Trade Agreement – increased the urgency to conclude the dialogue with Canada and open this new market for Belgian pear producers.

The EU Commission intervened at the highest level with the Canadian government, requesting a swift conclusion of the long pending file and a solution in time for the 2014 harvest. The provisional authorisation granted by the Canadian government fully honours this request, while safeguarding legitimate plant health protection goals. The solution underlines the well-established relations between the EU and Canada, which will be further reinforced through our Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, still to be ratified by the Parties.

Background

Belgium is the largest exporter of pears worldwide with over 250.000 tons of pears exported annually. In recent years 40% its pear exports went to the Russian Federation where consumers appreciated in particular the Conference variety of the fruit.

The EU Commission continues to work closely with all Member States to further facilitate trade.

For further information: trade-SPS@ec.europa.eu