After a decade of trying, U.S. cherries can finally enter western Australia.

Cherries are the first U.S. fresh fruit to win access to western Australia, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

California cherries have had access to the eastern states of Australia since the late 1990s, according to the release. Meanwhile, Washington and Oregon were given access to eastern Australian states since 2001. Since then, U.S. officials and industry leaders have worked to secure access to the western Australia market and strong support by western Australia importers helped secure access beginning this summer, according to the release.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service reported that the first U.S. the western Australian market could be worth $200,000 to $300,000 to U.S. cherry exporters this year and perhaps $1 million to $2 million annually in the future.

In 2009, the U.S. exported 2,334 metric tons of cherries valued at $15.6 million to Australia, up from $1.4 million in 1999 when the country first opened its doors to U.S. cherries.

“We’re very happy with the Foreign Agriculture Service and the Plant Protection and Quarantine people who helped negotiate this and it helped our industry this shipping year,” said Chris Schlect, president of the of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash.

In related news, Schlect said recent news of New Zealand apples gaining access to Australia raises hopes among exporters that U.S. apples can eventually win access to that market.

“Australia clearly benefits from the international market place, so they need to be open to imports,” Schlect. “New Zealand has done a good job of pressing its case for apples and once the dust settles from that, it would certainly seem that U.S. apples ought to be allowed entry into that market.”