STC Number - 133

Official control restrictions on citrus and other fresh fruits and vegetables

Maintained by: Japan
Raised by: New Zealand; United States of America
Supported by: Australia; European Union
First date raised: June 2002 G/SPS/R/27 paras. 27-30
Dates subsequently raised: November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28 paras. 59-62)
April 2003 (G/SPS/R/29 paras. 55-57)
June 2003 (G/SPS/R/30 paras. 61-63)
October 2003 (G/SPS/R/31 paras.19-20)
March 2004 (G/SPS/R/33 paras. 59-62)
June 2004 (G/SPS/R/34 paras. 18-21)
October 2004 (G/SPS/R/35 paras. 42-44)
March 2005 (G/SPS/R/36/Rev.1 paras. 61-64)
Number of times subsequently raised: 8
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/357 G/SPS/N/JPN/132
Products covered: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 08 Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: International Standards / Harmonization; Plant health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2002, the United States indicated that Japan continued to impose costly and unjustified quarantine actions when pests were detected on imported US fruits and vegetables, even though the same species were commonly found in Japan. In many instances these actions included treatment that damaged and destroyed the commodity in question. These practices lacked a scientific basis and were inconsistent with IPPC standards on official control and risk assessment for quarantine pests. The result was an arbitrary and unpredictable system facing US horticultural exports to Japan. The United States supported Japan's efforts to bring its plant laws into line with international standards and hoped that bilateral technical discussions would result in the termination of unjustified requirements. The European Communities supported the US statement. New Zealand noted concerns with Japan's continuing practice of fumigating consignments of fresh products due to the interception of pests that did not meet the definition of quarantine pests under the IPPC.
Japan recalled that during bilateral consultations with the United States in November 2001, the United States had requested Japan to abolish fumigation upon detection of California red scale and Fuller rose weevil in US produce, on the grounds that these were non-quarantine pests endemic in Japan. However, California red scale was under domestic control in Japan as a target pest of forecasting programmes and was therefore subject to fumigation if detected at import inspection. Fuller rose weevil had limited detection with only three points within Japan and was under government-oriented control aimed at eradication. It was not possible under these conditions to exclude those species from quarantine pests. Japan noted that they remained open to further consultations.
In November 2002, New Zealand expressed concern with Japan's official control restrictions, detailed in G/SPS/GEN/357. New Zealand requested Japan to confirm that it would not take any action, such as fumigation, on any pest found on imported produce if that pest was already present in Japan but not under official control as defined by the IPPC The United States recalled its concerns over the basis and application of Japan's phytosanitary legislation, in particular with respect to horticultural products that continued to face unjustified quarantine actions at Japan's ports of entry. Even when Japan required no domestic quarantine treatment for the same species of pests, the treatment imposed on imported produce included fumigation which in many cases ruined the products. The United States considered Japan's actions to be highly disruptive of trade. Australia and the European Communities expressed their concern regarding Japan's official control restrictions and supported the statements made by New Zealand and the United States.
Japan recognized that the IPPC standards should be one of the basis in a possible future quarantine system for Japan. Japan was examining whether its appropriate level of protection could be maintained by applying plant quarantine measures in line with the new IPPC definition, taking into account Japan's climate and the large volume of imports into Japan. A number of pests were presently under study and although a final conclusion had not yet been reached, discussions were underway to identify practical measures to reduce the effects of Japan's official control measures on international trade.
In April 2003, New Zealand stressed that Japan's policy was not consistent with the relevant international definition in ISPM-5 of the IPPC and Supplement No.1. Bilateral discussions between New Zealand and Japan continued and New Zealand requested a policy statement from Japan by 1 January 2003. To date, no such statement had been forthcoming. Japan had still not brought its phytosanitary measures in line with IPPC definitions and guidelines. The United States stated that it shared the concerns and frustrations of New Zealand and continued to experience trade disruptions due to Japan's phytosanitary legislation and unjustified quarantine actions. The United States had requested information on which pests were considered quarantine risks but did not receive a reply. Australia and the European Communities shared the concerns of New Zealand and the United States.
Japan stated that it was under no obligation to make a policy statement regarding non-quarantine pests, however, in the interest of transparency, Japan would provide a statement. Japan respected international rules, including IPPC guidelines, and took appropriate measures where necessary on the basis of its national plant protection laws. Further examination was necessary to see if Japan's current measures were consistent with international standards and representatives from outside government would be invited to review the situation.
In June 2003, New Zealand indicated that it was pleased to learn that Japan was reviewing its system in order to change it. The United States stated it was disappointed with the discriminatory nature of Japan's measures, its failure to notify internal regulations and the general lack of transparency within its system. Australia expressed support for statements made by New Zealand and the United States. Japan reported that bilateral consultations had been conducted and further examination would be necessary before conclusions could be drawn.
In October 2003, New Zealand reported that there had not been any response from Japan since bilateral contacts in April and June 2003. Japan responded that it was seeking to resolve the issue through technical discussions between relevant national experts. A bilateral meeting was to be held in November to discuss orchard controls and pre-clearance inspection systems. Japan reported that in June it had established a consultative group consisting of different stakeholders to examine whether its measures were consistent with international standards. This group had already met three times.
In March 2004, New Zealand noted that in November 2003, it presented a submission on its concerns as part of Japan's review of its plant quarantine processes and looked forward to having these concerns addressed in an early and trade facilitating manner. The United States reported that on 8 October 2003, the United States had presented its concerns on the classification of eleven specific species as quarantine pests to the Japanese plant protection division. In contrast to internationally accepted definitions of quarantine pests, Japan's legal definition of pests included pests that were already present in Japan and not subject to official control. As a result, imported products faced discriminatory treatment compared to domestic products since they were subjected to fumigation for pests that already existed in Japan. Japan was requested to provide clarification and information on actions taken to eradicate and contain the eleven specific pests and their distribution in Japan, and on its efforts to align its plant health laws with international standards. The European Communities supported the concerns of New Zealand and the United States.
Japan recalled that at the last Committee meeting, Japan and New Zealand had agreed to resolve the issue from a technical perspective and on a case-by-case basis. As a result of bilateral discussions, new quarantine measures were to be introduced in May 2004, based on trials of orchard control for Fuller Rose Weevil on kiwifruit. Furthermore, quarantine trials for reducing fumigation on lettuce from the United States were conducted from July 2003 to March 2004 and the results were under evaluation. Japan had received requests for 39 species of pests from New Zealand and 11 species from the United States to be designated as non-quarantine pests. Members' concerns on the inconsistency of Japan's plant health laws with international standards were under review. The consultative group on plant quarantine established by Japan's plant quarantine authorities had held four meetings but experienced a delay in compiling its recommendations. The consultative group meetings would be reactivated to work on recommendations which would be considered by plant quarantine authorities for further action.
In June 2004, New Zealand welcomed the conclusion of Japan's review of its plant quarantine regime and urged that the recommendations of Japan's Plant Quarantine Review Committee, particularly the recommendation that Japan move towards international practice, be adopted promptly. This issue had first been raised in the SPS Committee in March 2002, but bilateral exchanges had been occurring since 1986 between New Zealand and Japan on this issue. With the conclusion of the plant quarantine review, New Zealand expected that Japan would expand its non-quarantine pest list to reflect those pests already in Japan and not under official control. Although the Plant Quarantine Review Committee's report had not yet been considered domestically and implementation timelines had not been published, New Zealand hoped that a mutually acceptable solution could be reached soon.
The United States recalled that it had provided an update at the last Committee meeting on Japan's policy for requiring fumigation for non-quarantine pests, even when these pests were commonly found in Japan. Japan's written response to the US request on the eleven pests recognized the necessity of taking into account the relevant standards of the IPPC when conducting pest risk assessments (PRAs), was welcomed. ISPM 2, "Guidelines for Pest Risk Assessment", indicated that the PRA process should end when, in the course of the analysis, a potential quarantine pest had been identified as present and not subject to official controls. The European Communities shared the concerns of New Zealand and the United States.
Japan indicated that its authorities were identifying measures which would maintain Japan's appropriate level of protection and be consistent with relevant international standards. The Consultative Group on Plant Quarantine Systems published its report on 21 May 2004, including input from national stakeholders and foreign governments. The Consultative Group recommended that plant quarantine measures should be based on scientific risk assessments, following IPPC guidelines. In the review of existing PRAs, the plant quarantine authorities had focused on high priority pests designated by other Members. As a first step, Japan planned to notify these measures by December 2004.
In October 2004, New Zealand asked Japan whether it had adopted the necessary procedures to expand its non-quarantine pest list to include those pests already present in Japan that were not under official control as defined by the IPPC. The United States commented that they looked forward to reviewing the report on Japan's plant quarantine regime at the end of the year. The European Communities expressed support for the statements made by New Zealand and the United States and urged Japan to align its phytosanitary measures with IPPC definitions and guidelines. Japan replied that Members would be notified of the changes in its legislation in December 2004 and amendments would be made no later than March 2005.
In March 2005, New Zealand reiterated its concerns and welcomed Japan's announcement of expansion of its non quarantine pest list through the addition of 46 pests, especially as this list included a number of pests of specific concern to New Zealand. New Zealand encouraged Japan to implement these proposed changes as soon as its domestic regulatory procedures allowed, and in a manner that significantly addressed its concerns. New Zealand also requested information on Japan's proposed timetable for carrying out risk assessments on other pests of concern to New Zealand with a view to their inclusion on Japan's non-quarantine pest list as soon as practicable. The United States and the European Communities shared the concern that Japan's systems and procedures needed to be further modified to conform to international norms and practices while welcoming Japan's efforts to revise its plant quarantine process.
Japan noted that it had notified the draft amendment of the ordinance modifying non-quarantine pest lists in December 2004 (G/SPS/N/JPN/132). Comments from Members had been accepted for 60 days between 4 January and 4 March 2005. Domestic comments had been collected between 27 December 2004 and 25 February 2005. These comments were presently under examination by the plant quarantine authorities of Japan and it would take approximately one month to amend the relevant regulations, if approved.