STC Number - 228

Import procedures for fruits and vegetables

Maintained by: United States of America
Raised by: European Union
Supported by: Argentina
First date raised: June 2005 G/SPS/R/37/Rev.1, paras. 21-23
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
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: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Equivalence; International Standards / Harmonization; Plant health; Undue delays
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2005, the European Communities observed that EC exports of fruits and vegetables were experiencing lengthy inspection procedures that because of the highly perishable nature of the products, resulted in commercial losses. The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) also required that only US-produced pesticides be used during cultivation, some of which were not permitted within the European Communities. The European Communities requested the United States to accept the use of equivalent pesticides. Certain insects used to protect crops in the European Communities were not allowed entry into the United States. Other concerns included, inter alia, cold treatment import requirements and pre-clearance inspection procedures.
Argentina described the case of markets not attractive enough for the private sector to register a pesticide, so that no specific limit was fixed for the level of residues of this pesticide. On sanitary grounds, the default limit was zero or close to zero, which equalled prohibiting the products. The maximum limits established by Codex should be used by default in such cases.
The United States replied that its import procedures were transparent and WTO-consistent. Pesticide residue levels on fruits coming into the United States had to be approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pesticides did not have to be produced in the United States, but to be registered on the EPA list of authorized pesticides. The United States imported very substantial volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables from about 150 countries and the value of imports had increased by 97 per cent over the past ten years.