Agriculture Press Release

March 22, 2000

Crawford to Deliver First U.S. Citrus Shipment to China

TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today that he will travel to Beijing this weekend to deliver the first shipment of fresh citrus to mainland China from the United States following word earlier in the day that China will begin accepting U.S. citrus immediately.

"This is a historic opportunity for our growers and our industry," Crawford said. "After years of hard work by countless people, we now have access to market our citrus in the most populous nation on earth."

Crawford will deliver 10 cartons of Florida citrus, including red grapefruit, white grapefruit and oranges, to Beijing early next week.

The state is working with all approved citrus packers in the seven counties approved for export to China (Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Collier, Hendry and Lee) by providing marketing information and inspection requirements. At the same time, the state is working with one particular company that has already sold two containers of fruit. Ships will be loading the two containers for arrival in China early next month.

While some fresh citrus from the United States has appeared in China in exhibits and trade shows, the shipment that Crawford will deliver next week will constitute the first commercial shipment of U.S. citrus to mainland China.

Crawford said Florida expects to begin shipping major quantities of citrus to China in the fall and early next year, and within a few years anticipates that China will represent one of Floridas leading overseas citrus markets.

Research conducted by Crawfords Marketing Division estimates that of Chinas

1.2 billion residents, up to 300 million could be potential customers of Florida citrus.

Todays decision by China to permit the sale of U.S. citrus in China culminates a decade long effort by Crawfords office and the federal government to open that country to U.S. agricultural products.

Last spring, the United States and China signed a cooperative agreement permitting the sale of U.S. citrus, wheat and beef to China, but citrus sales were contingent upon China being satisfied that appropriate phytosanitary protocols were in place in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona to assure that only sanitary fruit would be entering China. China sent a team of inspectors to the United States in January to inspect groves and packing houses in the four states, and todays go-ahead was based on Chinas satisfaction with those inspections.

In 1997, Crawford led an extensive trade delegation to China and Hong Kong in efforts to open up the market, meeting numerous government and industry officials.

Last year, he opened a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services office in Beijing to work with Chinese government officials on the implementation of the citrus agreement and to identify channels of distribution for Florida citrus products.

And last November, Crawford sent a trade delegation to China to explore the logistics of trade with China and develop the long-term relations needed for successful trade development.

"The potential market in China for Florida agriculture is vast. The people in China are very conscious of the health and nutrition benefits of eating citrus fruits," Crawford said. "The historic opening of the market for citrus in China represents a portal for Florida agricultures international future."


For more information:
Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022

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