STC Number - 336

US measures on fresh lemons from the north west region of Argentina

Maintained by: United States of America
Raised by: Argentina
Supported by:
First date raised: July 2012 G/SPS/R/67, paras. 27-28
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: WT/DS448/1, WT/DS448/1/Corr1, WT/DS448/2
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Territory protection
Status: Not reported
Solution: DSU consultations requested on 3/09/2012. DSU consultations pending.
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In July 2012, Argentina expressed its concerns about the delay for reopening the US fresh lemon market for exports from its North West region. After six years of negotiations, Argentina and the United States had agreed on the risk mitigation measures for citrus canker and other pests, and in August 2000, the United States had opened its citrus markets for Argentinian exports. Argentina recalled that in September 2001, the United States suspended the import of citrus products from the North West region of Argentina following a court ruling. Negotiations to reopen the market were initiated in 2005, when citrus canker had spread to Florida and could no longer be the reason to restrict imports from Argentina. The US Department of Agriculture/ Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) requested, inter alia, that the fruit must originate from areas free of Citrus Variegated Chlorosis (CVC). This requirement was disproportionate and unjustified, as no other market in the world considered CVC to be a pest requiring quarantine measures for fresh lemons. Although Argentina had agreed to carry out a study of disease transmissibility, this was not possible as the absence of the disease in lemon trees did not allow for the isolation of the bacteria. In November 2011, in agreement with APHIS, Argentina sent a report demonstrating the absence of CVC in lemons. In May 2012, Argentina requested an answer from the United States and on 4 June 2012, APHIS replied that despite the fact that the report indicated absence of CVC, there was no information indicating the conditions under which the lemon trees could become infected with the bacteria. In ignoring the scientific evidence presented, the United States was acting inconsistently with Articles 2.2, 5.1, 5.6 and 8 of the SPS Agreement, and the unjustified delay in reopening the market was seriously affecting the regional economy.
The United States stated that APHIS had worked with Argentina's SENASA for several years to develop a pest risk assessment and a set of risk mitigation measures that would permit the safe import of lemons from the North West region. APHIS was currently evaluating the occurrence and transmissibility of diseases such as CVC, citrus canker and other pests of concern, as well as potential mitigation measures, before it could consider allowing imports from this region. The United States was not ignoring the scientific evidence from Argentina, and had sent a letter on 4 June 2012 to SENASA communicating the outcome of APHIS' evaluation of Argentina's report on the transmissibility of CVC in lemons, and indicating that it would subsequently share a pest risk assessment for consultation. APHIS was waiting for SENASA's response to the letter. The United States remained committed to work closely with Argentina.
In accordance with the provisions of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), Argentina requested consultations with the United States on 30 August 2012 (WT/DS448/1). Argentina requested the establishment of a panel on 6 December 2012 (WT/DS448/2).