Chilean exporters are disgruntled with Brazil’s decision to temporary block Chilean fruit imports following the discovery of a "mite" amongst the imported table grape, with the potential "to devastate 30% of Brazil’s grapevines".
The "Brevipalpus chilensis" mite which does not exist in Brazil not only affects hydration of the vines’ buds but also reduces the alcoholic potential of the grape, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture.
Chilean exporters however believe the drastic decision is a "tit for tat" attitude, which can be linked to Chile’s banning of Brazilian beef because of the foot and mouth outbreak in that country.
Chile’s sanitary officials rejected the "retaliation" theory but admitted that Brazil’s attitude is an "over reaction".
Brazil claims the action is in accordance with a scientific, technological and technical agreement signed by both countries to protect agricultural interests
"Finding the mite is not in line with Brazilian officials’ reaction. This is a common mite in table grape which does not exist in other fruit species. Therefore we are inclined to believe there has been a misunderstanding", said Francisco Bahamonde head of Chile’s Agriculture and Livestock sanitary services.
Mr. Bahamonde did not support the idea of "retaliation" to the banning of Brazilian beef (given the FAM outbreaks) since "negotiations to reopen Chilean markets are in the final stages".
But Luis Alberto Mouliat from Copefruit believes the incident can be described as a "tariffs" dispute, following possible trade pressures from inside both countries: "they want to sell beef and we want to send fruit. It’s a long time since we had a similar problem with Brazil".
Juan Carlos Sepúlveda from Fedefruta said the "Brazilian market is following certain procedures which have become a big question mark".
The president of Chile’s Exporters Association, Ronald Brown is also surprised.
"The existence and discovery of this mite in shipments is something normal, but is rarely made public", he said. Brown added he would not speculate about a possible "retaliation" but "it’s very odd that the Brazilian government should have made such a formal announcement. It usually does not happen".
Chilean fruit shipments to Brazil for the season 2004/05 totaled 30.300 tons, equivalent to 1.5% of all Chilean fruit exports, and 8.8% of the Latinamerican market.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com