STC Number - 177

Sanitary conditions for the importation of live material for apiculture

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Argentina
Supported by: Australia; New Zealand; United States of America
First date raised: October 2003 G/SPS/R/31, paras. 42-44
Dates subsequently raised: March 2004 (G/SPS/R/33, paras. 56-58)
June 2004 (G/SPS/R/34, paras. 27-29)
October 2004 (G/SPS/R/35, paras. 51-52)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/EEC/208; G/SPS/N/EEC/208/Add.1; G/SPS/N/ARG/71
Products covered: 0106 Other live animals.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

Argentina stated it recognized the need to minimize the risks of introducing pests of apiculture and that it had its own measures (G/SPS/N/ARG/71). However, the EC measure, which restricted the importation of queen bees and accompanying working bees from third countries, was unjustified. The EC measure required exporting countries to prove that they were free of the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and of the Tropilaelaps mite. Argentina was free from the pests and considered the EC response to its comments unsatisfactory. Argentina requested the European Communities to defer implementation of the measure.
The United States expected that the new regulation would take into account disease free areas, for example, Hawaii was free from the two pests. Australia supported the US position and stated that the EC proposed requirement was unreasonable and needed to take into account disease free status. New Zealand supported the comments made by Argentina, the United States and Australia.
The European Communities stated that the first notification was of a draft decision to restrict the importation of queen bees and their escorts to stop the introduction of the two parasites. These two parasites, although not included on the OIE list, posed a serious risk as they damaged hives and caused economic losses. Comments from Members had been taken into account and amendments to the measure had been notified. Disease free zones and health certificates covering these two pests would enable the safe import of bees into the European Communities.
In March 2004, Argentina reiterated that the presence of the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and the Tropilaelaps mite had not been reported in Argentina. The European Communities had not taken into consideration the differing sanitary status of exporting countries creating export challenges for those countries that did not have the two pests. A bilateral meeting with the European Communities was held on 16 March 2004 to seek a practical solution to this problem. The United States requested the European Communities to consider the fact that the state of Hawaii was free from the two concerned pests.
The European Communities indicated that the two pests of concern were very difficult to eradicate once introduced into a territory because the treatments were difficult to implement, were not very effective, and left pesticide residues in the honey. The small Tropilaelaps mite, which transformed into a flying insect in the adult stage and could fly up to six kilometres per day, could have devastating effects on honey and other agricultural production. The proposed measures were not disproportionate to the risks. Bees could be allowed from third countries or from regions of third countries that had a competent veterinary service approved by the European Communities and where the existence of the two pests was required to be notified. The bees must also be accompanied by a sanitary certificate issued by the competent authority declaring that the bees came from within a 30-kilometre radius of the beehive and that this area was free of the two pests. Argentina satisfied these two conditions. During bilateral consultations with Argentina, practical problems faced by Argentina in the implementation of the control measures had been identified and the European Communities had agreed to find alternative solutions to these problems.
In June 2004, Argentina stated that the requirements that hives should be subject to official check at the point of destination and queens transferred to new locations were not supported by scientific justification. Documentation confirming the absence of the concerned pests in Argentina had been provided to the European Communities and Argentina hoped that an upcoming bilateral meeting with the European Communities would resolve this issue. Australia and the United States also expressed concerns about the appropriateness of the EC measure. Australia considered that the measures were inappropriate for the management of the small hive beetle. The United States reported that honey bee exports from Hawaii to the European Communities had been halted, although the state of Hawaii was free of many of the pests covered by this measure. The certification requirements for honey bees from Hawaii should be modified to reflect the conditions there. The European Communities recalled that these rules had been introduced to preserve the parasite free status of honey bees in the European Union. The European Communities was prepared to review the legislation and border measures of Argentina and other countries, when documentation had been provided, in order to assess the possibility of instituting joint measures.
In October 2004, Argentina reported that studies confirming the absence of the parasites in the main exporting regions were made available to the European Communities and the final version would be submitted to the OIE. Despite having taken these measures, trade in queen bees from Argentina was still restricted. Argentina urged the European Communities for a prompt resolution of the issue as trade in queen bees was a seasonal activity. The European Communities stated that bilateral discussions were held with Argentina where it was explained that these measures were adopted to prevent the introduction of two particular bee parasites that were of serious risk to the EC bee population. The recent interception of a contaminated shipment from Portugal justified the protective measures adopted by the European Communities. Although Argentina had submitted eight reports, the European Communities were still not satisfied that Argentina's measures were sufficient to guarantee a parasite-free status. The reports did not indicate how particular geographical and climatic conditions would permit regionalizing the province of Buenos Aires. The European Communities were not in a position at this time to relax controls on bee imports from Argentina. Information received by the European Communities indicated that exports of Argentine bees were not affected during the 2004 season. However, the European Communities were prepared to discuss the impact of its measures on international trade with Argentina.