The Australian government has stood behind its controversial plan to import limes from Mexico, despite strong protest from the local citrus industry. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is currently assessing an application from Mexico to export its limes. Lime growers in far north Queensland have condemned the plan, saying that it could potentially risk bringing in the citrus canker disease.
At the moment, Queensland is the largest producer of limes in Australia, with some 560 hectares of mature lime orchards, representing more than half of Australia's total lime production. However, despite the large citrus bowl in north Queensland, Australia currently imports limes from the Cook Islands, Egypt, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, Spain, Tonga, the US and Vanuatu.
Minister Littleproud said that under the Free Trade Agreement (TPP11), Australia is under obligation to give market access to other countries, including Mexico.
Queenslandcountrylife.com.au quoted him as saying: "There is a technical process that we go through, and we have to understand, it's no longer the 1950s, we actually have to trade to the world. As a part of that free trade agreement, scientific and technical basis have to be made to give market access, and that's the process that we're going through with Mexico. They make applications to us and we work through the biosecurity risks, and work through what can or can't happen otherwise we're in breach of our contract."