Many Australian fruit traders have complained about the problems they face in the export of fresh fruit to the Chinese market. Their fruit is delayed in Chinese ports and they have no way to get their shipping containers to clients on time. The shipping containers typically spend 7-10 days to clear customs.
This pressure on Australian fruit began last year. One importer in Guangzhou explained: "The relationship between China and Australia is strained. Some Australian exporters are guarded and prefer to receive payment before shipping. This has severely worsened market conditions and fruit from many production areas has become unmarketable. That is why Australian exporters cannot help but give in when it comes to payment methods. By the time the logistical problems arose, the grape season was already in full swing."
Another importer added: "The grape season is nearly over, but custom procedures are still much slower than usual. This is because Chinese customs agents carry out 100% checks on Australian fruit, rather than sample check the containers."
The importer also explained that Chinese customs agents only checked about 30% of the Chilean cherry containers this year, but every single Australian container is opened for inspection. Since resources are limited, inspection is very slow. The cost of inspection and rent for storage space all adds to the cost price of Australian fruit, which puts a lot of pressure on Australian exporters."
When asked about the expectations for the Australian orange season, one importer replied: "Australian orange exports to China are relatively small compared to oranges from other production areas. Considering the problems at Chinese customs, many Australian exporters temporarily halted their export to the Chinese market. That is the only way to avoid the risk. Although there are of course some people who are willing to take the risk and sell a small volume of Australian oranges, so that their price will rise."