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US opens door to tropical fruits from Vietnam

Vietnamese litchi and longan will be allowed to be sold in the U.S. starting in October, following an amended regulation from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Vietnamese litchi and longan will be allowed to be sold in the U.S. starting in October, following an amended regulation from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Vietnamese litchi and longan will be allowed to be sold in the U.S. starting in October, following an amended regulation from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The APHIS, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsible for protecting animal and plant health, has amended the “fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the importation of litchi and longan fruit from Vietnam into the continental United States,” according to a document published in the Federal Register on Thursday.

The APHIS said Vietnamese litchi and longan will be required to undergo a systematic approach that includes requirements for treatment and inspection and restrictions on the distribution of the fruit.

“This will allow for the importation of litchi and longan fruit from Vietnam into the United States, while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests,” the document, serving as the final rule on the issue, reads.

The APHIS first proposed to allow importation of Vietnamese litchi and longan fruits in 2011, and eventually “adopted the proposed rule as a final rule, without change.”

The final rule takes effect on October 4.

However, the importation of Vietnamese litchi and longan fruit will not be allowed in Florida and Hawaii, where the tropical fruits are commercially grown, The Packer, a weekly on fresh fruit and vegetable industry news, said in its Wednesday report, citing the USDA.

The two states collectively produced 535 metric tons of litchi and 776 metric tons of longan in 2008, according to USDA data.

The USDA believed Vietnam’s litchi and longan may have a negative economic impact on U.S. fruit growers, the Kansas-based newspaper said.

Imported fruit from Vietnam could hurt the price of U.S. fruit sold in Asian and Hispanic markets, where the demand for produce is more price-sensitive, according to the USDA.

Between 2007 and 2010, the Southeast Asian country shipped around 600 metric tons of litchi and 1,200 tons of longan to the U.S., the USDA said, citing Vietnamese trade sources.

It is also likely that Vietnamese litchi will be able to enter the Australian market, with local businesses promising to consider importing the fruit, according to the Vietnam Trade Office in Australia.

The office has recently proposed an increase in the importation of Vietnamese products, including fruits and vegetables, to Australia.

“The proposal was highly appreciated by businesses in the state of Victoria, as well as Coles, a subsidiary of the country’s second largest retailer, Wesfarmers Limited,” the trade office said earlier this week.