Pending final approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, another region of Argentina will be given the green light to export fruit to the U.S.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has preliminarily declared the southern and central oases of Argentina’s Mendoza province free of Mediterranean fruit flies.

A comment period on the proposal closed Aug. 24, but the agency has yet to issue its final ruling, said Alyn Kiel, an APHIS spokeswoman.

 Importers and industry officials were not sure what affect a final ruling could have on exports of Argentinean fruit to the U.S.

Argentina is the largest exporter of pears to the U.S. — from January through August 2010, 27,000 metric tons were imported, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. But only 5% of them come from Mendoza province, which is perhaps best known for its wine grapes, said Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore.

“I don’t think that particular area will likely have an impact on the (export) equation,” Moffitt said, adding that he doubted if Argentinean apple exports to the U.S. would change much, either.

Broc Bengard, vice president of Los Angeles-based Bengard Marketing, said he hadn’t heard of any U.S.-bound pipfruit coming from Mendoza province.

Dave Bowe, owner of Coral Springs, Fla.-based berry importer Dave's Specialty Imports Inc., said his company did not import any berries from Mendoza province.

Other importers said they didn’t know what affect, if any, the proposed APHIS ruling would have on their Argentinean fruit programs.