STC Number - 210

Restrictions on imports of chicken meat

Maintained by: Guatemala
Raised by: Mexico
Supported by: European Union
First date raised: March 2005 G/SPS/R/36/Rev.1, paras. 28-29
Dates subsequently raised: June 2006 (G/SPS/R/42, paras. 27-29 )
October 2006 (G/SPS/R/43, paras. 148-149)
February 2007 (G/SPS/R/44, paras. 142-143)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally.
Products covered: 0207 Meat and edible offal, of the poultry of heading 01.05, fresh, chilled or frozen.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2005, Mexico recalled that his country had raised a concern on Guatemala's restrictions on imports of chicken meat. Progress towards a solution to the problem had been made recently and Mexico would continue to monitor the issue bilaterally and in the context of the Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA). Guatemala confirmed its willingness to continue working on this issue with Mexico.

In June 2006, Mexico noted continuing problems related to Guatemala's import prohibition on poultry meat products and sub-products (including eggs). The long delays with which Guatemala's Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) had responded to the multiple requests for importation of such products from Mexico violated the timeframes established by Guatemalan authorities. In April 2005, Mexico had sent MAGA the model zoosanitary certificates for approval, accompanied by information on avian diseases in Mexico. Although in November 2005, during a meeting of a bilateral SPS technical expert group, Guatemalan authorities had committed to carry out a risk assessment and provide a response, no response had yet been received. During January and February 2006, Mexico had asked Guatemala to remove restrictions imposed in response to an alleged outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza, taking into account OIE guidance. At the same time, Mexico requested information on Guatemala's avian influenza situation in order to open Mexico's market for poultry products from Guatemala. Bilateral meetings had been held in the margins of the 34th meeting of the SPS Committee. In June 2006, Mexico had received a communication from MAGA indicating that due to the difference in sanitary status between the two countries, Guatemala would not lift its import restrictions on poultry products and sub-products from Mexico. At the same time, Guatemala declined to respond to Mexico's questionnaire on Guatemala's avian influenza situation. Mexico considered that Guatemala's actions violated the OIE Code and the SPS Agreement, and hoped that Guatemala would soon respond to Mexico's requests, allowing trade of poultry products and sub-products between both countries.
The European Communities indicated that exports from EC member States to Guatemala had been disrupted because of avian influenza concerns. The European Communities emphasized that such measures should be proportional to the risk, taking into account Article 6 of the SPS Agreement. The European Communities intended to pursue the issue bilaterally.
Guatemala indicated it would work bilaterally to resolve the issue related to EC exports.

In October 2006, Mexico reported that although it had taken various measures at bilateral level to reach a solution, Guatemala continued to be in breach of its obligation under Articles 5 and 6 of the SPS Agreement. Mexico requested Guatemala to suspend the restrictions imposed on Mexican poultry imports.

Guatemala indicated that a meeting of the technical bodies of both Members was to be held on 17-18 October 2006, where an analysis of the situation would be made. At the meeting, the health situation of both countries, domestic quarantine measures and the situation regarding avian influenza were to be reviewed. Guatelamala was hopeful that the meeting would enable technicians from both parties to reach a satisfactory solution.

In February 2007, Mexico reported that despite several bilateral meetings seeking an end to Guatemala's restrictions imposed due to low pathogenic avian influenza, there had still been no response from the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture. These restrictions were not in line with the OIE Code. Mexico had requested that Guatemala undertake verification visits, but had not received a satisfactory reply.
Guatemala confirmed that following technical meetings and discussions of the sanitary status of both countries, it had agreed to undertake visits to check controls in Mexico. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, these visits had not yet been possible, and further delays had occurred due to changes in the head of the relevant department. However, Guatemala remained committed to resolving this issue.