EU plans two-year ban on Chinese imports of Japanese Maples to combat longhorn beetle

The European Standing Committee on plant health has voted to ban the importation of Japanese Maples from China for two years.

The suspension is one of a raft of measures introduced to combat the spread of citrus longhorn beetle Anoplophora chinensis after an outbreak caused 550 Dutch nurseries to close earlier this year.

A Food & Environment Research Authority (FERA) representative said: "Strengthened requirements have also been agreed for other host plants imported from China. These include a standardised inspection regime for such plants, prior to export and on import into the EU. All EU member states will be applying an harmonised destructive sampling protocol for host plants imported from China and any findings of the pest will result in the delisting of the Chinese nursery concerned for a minimum two-year period."

FERA plant health policy's Richard McIntosh added: "The destructive sampling on other host plants will be 10 per cent up to a maximum of 4,500 plants, so no more than 450 plants can be destroyed.

"Obviously we will have to wait and see if we experience problems with the other host plants but we will be keeping an eye on that and if problems are experienced we will have further discussions."

McIntosh said the measure was introduced after growing concern from member states and on the basis of evidence presented by the Food and Veterinary Office after audits of Chinese nurseries were carried out last year.

He added: "It is an opportunity for the Chinese authorities to review and clean up the system. After the two years assuming everything is working more effectively we can reopen that trade again. We believe that this legislation is technically justified as it's based on interceptions so we don't see it as being a barrier to trade, just something that is technically necessary and we hope that the Chinese authorities would see it that way."

The measure must now pass through Commission procedures and be signed off before it takes effect. It is expected by June and McIntosh said it would certainly be in place before the autumn import season began.

UK Acer growers welcome the move. Norfield Nurseries owner Steve Penrose said: "It is great for us because we don't import at all and it's about time we had a little bit of luck. One of our major problems has been competing with the sheds that bring Acers in cheaply from Holland, where they are imported from China."

Stepping Stones European agent Adrian Ayley said: "I'm pleased they are taking it seriously and its good to see plant health & husbandry being put before commercial interests."

- See more growers' reaction at

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