On 16 March, the local press reported that Argentina’s ambassador to the US, Martín Lousteau, had expressed concern about the US government’s decision to extend for a further 30 days a stay on the import of fresh lemons from Argentina into the US issued in January by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The 20 January stay was issued after in December 2016 the USDA had announced that it had approved Argentina’s request to lift the 2001 ban on the import of fresh lemons from north-western Argentina after considering that Argentina had adopted new phytosanitary measures to prevent the spread of Mediterranean fruit fly. The USDA’s decision gave Argentina, now the world’s largest lemon producer, full access to the world’s largest consumer market for the first time in 15 years. However, APHIS issued the stay in January, with APHIS spokeswoman Yindra Dixon telling international media that “the 60-day stay is fairly customary during an administration transition to give incoming staff an opportunity to review all of the regulatory activity. Lemons was among several final rules that will be affected”. But after this initial 60-day period passed, APHIS called for an extension arguing that more time was needed to fully analyse the effects of the decision - something that the Argentina government believes may answer to political rather than technical considerations.
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