STC Number - 126

Import requirements for seed potatoes

Maintained by: Brazil
Raised by: Canada; European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2002 G/SPS/R/27, paras. 24-26
Dates subsequently raised: November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28, paras. 63-68)
October 2003 (G/SPS/R/31, paras. 21-22)
June 2004 (G/SPS/R/34, paras. 55-56)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 0701 Potatoes, fresh or chilled.
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Risk assessment; Transparency
Status: Resolved
Solution: Change in Brazil's regulation
Date reported as resolved: 01/06/2004

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

The European Communities reported that on 13 November 2001, the Brazilian authorities had given notice of new measures on imports of seed potatoes but had provided no delay for their implementation, no technical justification and had not respected the need for transparency. As one of the main suppliers to Brazil, the European Communities had commented on the measures, but Brazil's initial response had not addressed the EC's concerns and, in particular, had not identified the pest risk assessment justifying its measure. The requested information had been provided during bilateral consultations held before the SPS Committee meeting, and the European Communities looked forward to continuing the bilateral process with Brazil. Canada expressed concern with Brazil's required export certification for non quarantine regulated pests, in contradiction to internationally agreed principles and practices. Canada was also involved in bilateral discussion with the Brazilian authorities and had requested Brazil to withdraw its measure. Brazil indicated that it hoped subsequent technical consultations would resolve the issue.
In November 2002, Canada expressed concerns regarding Brazil's required certification for pests that were not of economic significance nor a significant risk to plant health. Canada considered this to be an issue of quality that was more appropriately resolved between the buyer and the seller, and not by government certification schemes. Although Canadian technical officials were working with Brazil to complete a risk assessment, this issue was not being resolved as quickly as warranted. The European Communities requested Brazil to modify its measures on the basis of the technical arguments and proposals that had been made bilaterally and requested Brazil to postpone the implementation of these measures. The United States shared the concerns expressed by both Canada and the European Communities concerning the disruption of trade in seed potatoes and requested Brazil to revise their policy as soon as possible.
Brazil noted that consultations on the issue of seed potatoes had been carried out for some time. Brazilian experts were considering a new proposal from the European Communities and hoped to provide a reply as soon as possible. The Brazilian Directive aimed at enhancing market opportunities in relation to previous regulations by creating two new categories of imports for seed potatoes. Brazil was interested in diversifying their source of suppliers of seed potatoes given the strategic importance of the sector for Brazil. National producers were subject to the same considerations applicable to foreign providers, and his country's motivation could not be construed as restricting market access for seed potatoes. Brazil invited the European Communities to send a team of experts to become familiar with their system, and witness the fact that national producers were subject to the same considerations as the foreign suppliers. With respect to the comments made by Canada, Brazil recalled that the matter had been extensively discussed by authorities from both countries. The Brazilian legislation required that exporters of seed potatoes to Brazil have a certification system in place; apparently this was not the case for Canada. Brazil added that the concerns voiced by the United States would be transmitted to the competent authorities.
Canada clarified that Canada had a certification system for seed potatoes but that the certification system did not go into minor details on issues of quality. In response to Brazil's invitation, the European Communities suggested that Brazil should send a team of experts to inspect the production and food safety conditions within the European Communities.
In October 2003, the European Communities reported that following discussions with Brazil in October 2002, the European Communities had presented a proposal for a possible solution which Brazil had agreed to study. Brazil explained that it was in the process of discussing new regulations and hoped that the issue would be resolved shortly.
In June 2004, Canada reported that the issue of Brazil's import requirements for seed potatoes had been resolved, and Brazil had made a number of adjustments to its regulation of non-quarantine pests. Canada reminded Members of the importance of notifying their SPS measures sufficiently in advance to provide an opportunity to comment before regulations were finalized to avoid future problems of this nature. Brazil concurred that the issue had been resolved.