STC Number - 61

Import restrictions on bovine semen

Maintained by: India
Raised by: Canada; European Union
Supported by: United States of America
First date raised: March 1999 G/SPS/R/14, para. 19, G/SPS/R/18, paras. 23-25
Dates subsequently raised: June 2000 (G/SPS/R/19, paras. 24-25)
November 2000 (G/SPS/R/20, paras. 18-22)
March 2001 (G/SPS/R/21, paras. 40-43)
July 2001 (G/SPS/R/22, para. 51)
April 2003 (G/SPS/R/29, paras. 76-77)
March 2018 (G/SPS/R/90, para. 3.61)
Number of times subsequently raised: 6
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/113; RD/SPS/28/Rev.1
Products covered: 05 Products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses
Status: Resolved
Solution: On 2 November 2017, information was received from Canada on the resolution of this STC. On 1 March 2018, the European Union informed Members of the resolution of its concerns regarding India's import restrictions on bovine semen, which had initially been raised by Canada and supported by the European Union.
Date reported as resolved: 01/03/2018

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 1999, the European Communities indicated that bilateral contact with India regarding import restrictions on bovine semen had not been successful, and submitted a list of specific questions. In March 2000, the European Communities reported that no information had been received from India, although there had been some bilateral and multilateral contacts. India presented some information to the EC delegate at that time.

In March 2000, Canada expressed concern that India was banning imports of bovine semen from Canada because of BSE concerns, although Canada was BSE-free, and although BSE was not transmissible through semen according to the OIE. India clarified that the measure was a licensing process, not a ban, which had been imposed to avoid inadvertent introduction of BSE or scrapie into India. India had prepared a questionnaire for its trading partners and was planning to carry out a risk assessment based on the responses. The representative of India indicated that he would bring the Canadian concerns to the attention of his authorities in order to solve the problem bilaterally as soon as possible.

In June 2000, Canada informed the Committee that bilateral consultations had failed to resolve the matter, and that India continued to restrict Canadian exports of bovine semen despite (i) Canada being BSE-free, (ii) OIE confirmation that BSE was not transmissible through semen, (iii) the OIE specifically not calling for restrictions on trade in bovine semen, and (iv) the absence of a risk assessment to justify India's ban on bovine semen. Canada asked that India remove this restriction. India noted that recent bilateral consultations had been helpful and that efforts were being made to find a solution to the dispute.

In November 2000, Canada, supported by the European Communities, reiterated its concerns regarding India's BSE-related restrictions on bovine semen imports, despite Canada's BSE freedom, and despite agreement in the OIE and other veterinary bodies that BSE was not transmitted by semen. In September 2000, India had indicated that it intended to continue this unjustified prohibition, despite the lack of risk assessment for the measure. India reported that detailed bilateral consultations were ongoing. The Indian Animal Husbandry Commission had met on 11 September 2000 and had noted the findings of the EC Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) regarding the difficulty of making precise estimates of the risks of infectivity of various products including semen.

India further reported that it had sought detailed information from the OIE regarding the basis for determining that BSE was not transmitted by semen, as well as information on the criteria for determining if a country or zone was free from BSE. However, to date no reply had been received from the OIE.

The European Communities observed that India was referring to a scientific opinion which had been published in 1998, which had subsequently been modified through various meetings of the OIE. The representative of the OIE indicated that the issue of bovine semen had been examined on various occasions at the OIE, and the results of these examinations had been provided to India, however, the OIE would again send India all of the relevant information.

In March 2001, Canada and India announced that they had agreed to informal discussions under the SPS Agreement and hoped that the matter would be resolved soon. Canada recalled the OIE statement confirming that BSE could not be transmitted by semen (G/SPS/GEN/230). India stressed that it was not trying to give an unfair advantage to domestic producers. The socio-religious conditions related to the treatment of cows in India were such that India had to be extremely cautious. India asked Canada to cooperate with India's risk assessment, which would take at least another six months to complete. Canada questioned the need to carry out the risk assessment, since according to the OIE there was no risk of disease transmission through semen. India and Canada intended to raise the issue at the OIE.

In July 2001, Canada reported that it was engaged in bilateral consultations under the SPS Agreement with India. There had been certain positive developments and Canada hoped to quickly resolve the issue. India indicated that the relevant regulations had been changed, and that the changes would soon be notified.

In April 2003, Canada stated that although a successful conclusion had been reported to the Committee in July 2001, a further problem had been encountered and an import licence request was rejected by India due to some apparent connection between BSE and bovine semen. Canada questioned the scientific basis for the action and stated that the OIE's recommendations supported Canada's view. Canada requested that India remove this restriction. India agreed to convey Canada's concerns to the appropriate authorities.

In November 2017, the Secretariat informed that in September 2017 it had contacted all Members who had raised specific trade concerns (STCs) that had not been discussed in the previous year, to request an update on their status. In furtherance of this request, information was received from Canada on the resolution of this STC. The Secretariat indicated that the information received had been circulated in document RD/SPS/28 of 31 October 2017, and that the SPS IMS would be updated on this basis, using the date of the November 2017 SPS Committee meeting as the date of resolution of the relevant STCs.

In March 2018, the European Union informed Members of the resolution of its concerns regarding India's import restrictions on bovine semen, which had initially been raised by Canada and supported by the European Union. The European Union thanked India for their cooperation on this issue.