STC Number - 190

Regionalization and recognition of animal disease free status

Maintained by: Unspecified
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: March 2004 G/SPS/R/33, para. 52
Dates subsequently raised: June 2004 (G/SPS/R/34, paras. 35-36)
October 2004 (G/SPS/R/35, para. 87)
March 2005 (G/SPS/R/36/Rev.1, paras. 52-54)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0103 Live swine.; 0201 Meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled.; 0202 Meat of bovine animals, frozen.; 0203 Meat of swine, fresh, chilled or frozen.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization
Status: Partially resolved
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2004, the European Communities indicated that they recognized regionalization and based their policy on Article 6 of the SPS Agreement, while some Members did not give the same treatment to regionalization. The European Communities had provided evidence to the importing Member on regions free from the disease and access for inspection or any other relevant procedures as in accordance with Article 6. Nevertheless, EC member States continued to experience unjustified export restrictions related to assumed disease presence in those regions. For example, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands had experienced import restrictions due to highly pathogenic avian influenza although they regained their disease free status in November 2003. France, Italy and Spain experienced unjustified restrictions related to classical swine fever due to the non-application of the principle of regionalization. Furthermore, all EC member States were officially free of FMD but continued to face unjustified import restrictions. The European Communities urged all Members to respect the obligations of the SPS Agreement on regionalization and recognize the disease free status of EC member States and remove unjustified import restrictions.
In June 2004, the European Communities stated that some WTO Members failed to recognize that all EC member States were officially free of FMD according to the OIE criteria. No new outbreaks of FMD had been recorded in the territory of the European Communities since 2002. The European Communities considered the epidemic to be under control and the disease completely eradicated. According to the OIE rules, countries could recover free status three months after the last identified case when a stamping out policy and serological surveillance were applied. There was no scientific justification for restrictive measures on EC products due to FMD.
The European Communities also highlighted the lack of recognition of regionalization for Classical Swine Fever. The European Communities had continued to recognize area disease-free status in several WTO Members who themselves failed to recognize regionalization in the European Communities. The European Communities regularly provided information to importing countries upon request concerning which EC member States could be considered free of Classical Swine Fever and had also facilitated inspections. However, some WTO Members continued to impose restrictions on imports from Italy and France based on concerns about Classical Swine Fever. The European Communities urged Members to respect Article 6 of the SPS Agreement, particularly related to Italy and France, and offered to provide any relevant information to support the implementation of this request.
In October 2004, the European Communities recalled that the European Communities had on previous occasions requested Members to adhere to the principles of regionalization and to recognize the disease-free status of EC member States. Several Members had now removed their restrictions on some EC member States. The European Communities would provide all necessary information to demonstrate its disease-free status to any WTO Member.
In March 2005, the European Communities again drew attention to the fact that some WTO Members continued to apply unjustified restrictions on EC exports of animal products despite the fact that the whole EC territory was officially free of FMD. No new outbreaks of FMD had been recorded in the territory of the European Communities since 2002 and FMD was completely eradicated. Austria had last experienced an FMD outbreak in 1981 and some WTO Members still refused to recognize it as free from FMD. resulting in a complete ban on imports of animal products from this country. The European Communities urged all Members to respect the obligations of the SPS Agreement with regard to recognition of disease-free status and to remove all unjustified import restrictions.
The European Communities was in the position to demonstrate to importing WTO Members which regions of the European Communities could safely export live pigs, pork meat and pork meat products and which regions could not. Spain was officially free from classical swine fever since July 2002, according to international standards. However some WTO Members continued to apply a ban on imports of pork meat products from Spain. According to Article 2 of the SPS Agreement, there was no scientific justification to ban imports of products from a country where a disease did not exist. The European Communities urged all Members to respect the obligations of the SPS Agreement with regard to the recognition of disease free status for classical swine fever and to remove all related unjustified import restrictions on live pigs, pork meat and pork meat products not only from Spain but from all other EC member States free of the disease.