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Argentina seeks to export fresh grapes to China

Argentina's Secretary of Agriculture reported that he had reached an agreement with the Chinese authorities so that a medical delegation from that country would visit the province of San Juan next January to certify the local table grape production, with the aim of signing the protocol of access to that country during the first half of next year. 

The signing of the protocol would allow access, for the first time, to the direct export of grapes for fresh consumption, 90% of which are produced in San Juan, opening a possibility for the sector. So far, the few local deliveries done by the country are outsourced, i.e. via countries that buy the product from Argentina and then send it to Hong Kong or other destinations. 

"Getting the admission protocol would allow us to open what is really important, the Chinese market," said Minister of Local Production, Marcelo Alós. 

San Juan is Argentina's largest exporter of table grapes. Three years ago, San Juan exported 39 million kilos of table grapes three years ago, and then it suffered a competitiveness crisis and losses due to the weather over the next two seasons, which led to a reduction in export volumes of more than 10 million kilos. The sector, however, remains an emblem of diversification within the wine sector, and the sector with the highest labour intensive demand (between 20,000 and 25,000 in wages per season). 

On the other hand, the Chinese fruit imports market is growing at high rates, largely due to the improvement of living standards and the population's purchasing power, which grant Argentina the potential to become an exporter to said market in the counter-season. 

According to the Secretary of Agriculture, last year China imported $514 million dollars worth of table grapes from around the world. "We have been exporting grapes to China via third countries, but the controls were increased for a while and the Chinese closed their borders to non producing countries, which makes achieving the health protocol to export directly very important," Alos said. 

The province of San Juan and Argentina began negotiations about one year ago and Alós travelled to China last August, when he met with officials of the Department of Plant and Animal Quarantine and asked them to expedite the risk analysis after all the documentation submitted by SENASA. At that moment, he invited them to visit the province so they could watch the local production advance the process. 

"They are coming now for the first time to see how the grapes are produced here, and to find out that there is no health risk. They want to inspect the lack of pests that would stop the entry of the products. Or they might decide to allow the entry of products after they undergo a quarantine treatment," he added. 


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