STC Number - 235

Import restrictions on EC exports of live birds, meat, meat products and other derivates due to avian influenza

Maintained by: Unspecified
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: October 2005 G/SPS/R/39 paras. 46-48
Dates subsequently raised: June 2006 (G/SPS/R/42 para. 21)
October 2006 (G/SPS/R/43 para. 37)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 02 Meat and edible meat offal; 0105 Live poultry, that is to say, fowls of the species Gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization
Status: Partially resolved
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2005, the European Communities stated that it had learned, thanks to SPS notifications, that four WTO Members had recently imposed a ban on EC poultry products including live birds, poultry meat and meat products, feathers, animal feed from poultry meat, bone and feather meal, and other by-products of poultry, on the ground of the presence of avian influenza (AI) in the EC territory. Three of these Members had targeted the ban to Greece, although the suspected case of AI reported by Greece in October 2005 had proved to be negative for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The current ban imposed on Greece was not based on science nor on any existing OIE standards. It was therefore inconsistent with Article 3.1 of the SPS Agreement.
The European Communities had been recognized by the OIE as free of AI and had rapidly taken effective safeguard measures to protect and maintain this status. A fourth WTO Member had banned imports of the same poultry products from the entire world. According to OIE rules and the provisions of the SPS Agreement, bans on bird products should only apply to regions affected by HPAI. The European Communities urged these four Members to bring their legislation into compliance with international rules and Article 2.2 of the SPS Agreement.
Canada requested Members to cautiously react to low pathogenic AI outbreaks, especially in light of the current worldwide sensitivity on AI-related issues, in order to not discourage Members from notifying such outbreaks. Suriname stated his country's concern about the EC ban on imports of wild birds from Suriname. Suriname was an AI-free country, as had been proven by investigations by UK authorities tracking an infected bird detected in a shipment of wild birds. Investigations had demonstrated that the infected bird did not originate from Suriname. Other birds in the same consignment, sent to other EC countries, had shown no sign of the disease. Suriname's exports of wild birds were suffering from the EC ban and Suriname questioned when its exports could resume.
In June 2006, the European Communities reiterated concerns that certain Members imposed unjustified measures on EC exports of an excessively broad range of poultry products, including heat-treated ones. Only a limited number of EC member States had confirmed cases of avian influenza and many had rapidly regained disease-free status. The European Communities urged all Members to base their measures on scientific principles and apply the concept of regionalization rather than banning imports from all EC member States.
In October 2006, the European Communities informed the Committee that although a significant number of WTO Members had lifted their bans on EC products according to international standards, some Members still had unjustified restrictions in place. The European Communities would continue to seek the lifting of these import restrictions.