STC Number - 344

Measures on shrimp

Maintained by: Brazil
Raised by: Ecuador
Supported by:
First date raised: October 2012 G/SPS/R/69, paras. 180-181
Dates subsequently raised: March 2013 (G/SPS/R/70, paras. 3.25-3.26)
March 2014 (G/SPS/R/74, paras. 3.9-3.10)
October 2016 (G/SPS/R/84, paras. 3.40-3.41 )
March 2017 (G/SPS/R/86, paras. 9.1-9.4)
July 2017 (G/SPS/R/87, paras. 4.35-4.36)
November 2018 (G/SPS/R/93, paras. 3.60-3.61)
Number of times subsequently raised: 6
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0306 Crustaceans, whether in shell or not, live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine; crustaceans, in shell, cooked by steaming or by boiling in water, whether or not chilled, frozen, dried, salted or in brine; flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Risk assessment; Territory protection; Undue delays
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2012, Ecuador flagged the drastic decrease in its shrimp exports due to Brazil's Regulation 39, that placed conditions on the authorization for shrimp imports so as to prevent the introduction of white spot and yellow head virus. Ecuador had spent considerable resources in protecting and preserving its shrimp production from these two diseases through the residue and contaminant monitoring plans, which had been provided to Brazil. The Brazilian authorities had indicated that the measures adopted in Regulation 39 had been lifted; however the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture published another Standard 12 establishing procedures for import risk analysis that was yet to be implemented. Bilateral discussions had resulted in information exchange and Ecuador hoped for a rapid mutual solution to the issue.

Brazil noted that it had been informed of this trade concern at short notice and did not have sufficient time to prepare a substantive response. The concerns would be conveyed to the relevant authorities in the hope that a solution could soon be found.

In March 2013, Ecuador reiterated its concern regarding Brazil's import ban on shrimp. Following Brazil's implementation of Regulation 39 on 4 November 1999, Ecuador's shrimp exports to Brazil first decreased and then completely stopped in 2000. Brazil had justified its import restrictions on the basis that the measure protected the country from white and yellow spot diseases. However, following the implementation of the Residues and Contaminants Monitoring Plan in 2007, Ecuador's shrimp entered markets that had stricter requirements than Brazil, e.g., the European Union, Japan and North America. Brazil had not provided the necessary information to justify its measures, nor a risk assessment and Ecuador considered that the measures were discriminatory and not in compliance with Article 2 of the SPS Agreement. Brazil's Ministry of Fisheries had announced on 21 February 2013 that the risk identification phase of this issue would be concluded in two weeks, but there was still no official statement on its outcome. Ecuador urged Brazil to provide information on this issue.

Brazil confirmed that a risk analysis on Ecuadorian shrimp was being conducted and was now in the phase of risk and hazard identification. This was a complex exercise given that the issue dealt with an aquaculture product. For this reason it had not been possible to conclude and release the report of the risk identification phase in March, but the report was expected to be published soon. Brazil looked forward to moving on to the subsequent phases of the risk analysis as soon as the report on hazard identification was published.

In March 2014 meeting Ecuador again urged Brazil to complete the risk assessment within a reasonable time and stressed that Ecuador had quarantine mechanisms in place to detect white spot disease in its fisheries. Ecuador offered to provide information and enable inspections from the Brazilian authorities in order to ensure compliance with Brazil's requirements and accelerate the process of risk assessment.

Brazil noted that the risk assessment was a complex task, but the process was moving forward and Brazil had concluded its public consultations. It was prepared to send an inspection delegation to Ecuador in June, as a follow-up to a questionaire sent in March.

In October 2016, Ecuador reiterated its concern regarding Brazil's suspension of shrimp imports from Ecuador. This measure was in effect since 2000 and aimed at protecting Brazil from endemic pathologies such as White spot syndrome virus and Yellowhead disease. Both diseases also existed in Brazil. Ecuador emphasized the importance of shrimp exports for its economy, recalling that Brazil had initiated an import risk assessment (IRA) for Ecuadorian shrimp at the beginning of 2011. The first of the four steps of the IRA had only been finalized in June 2013, and the second step had not yet been concluded. Ecuador insisted that it had provided sufficient information to Brazil throughout this time, and noted that in July 2014 a group of technical experts from Brazil had visited various entities in Ecuador. During the last meeting held in July 2016 the Brazilian officials in charge of the technical report recognized that the import risk assessment had exceeded the time usually deemed necessary for such a process. Ecuador recalled that since 2007 a residues and contaminants monitoring plan for all aquaculture establishments had been in place and its shrimp products regularly accessed markets with high SPS standards. Ecuador regretted that despite its bilateral engagement with Brazil on the IRA, half of the process had not yet been concluded after six years, and shrimp exports from Ecuador had been stopped for more than a decade. Ecuador requested that Brazil swiftly provide the timetable for the remaining steps of the IRA, and that the process move forward promptly in order for shrimp exports from Ecuador to regain access to the Brazilian market.

Brazil responded that in 2015 its health authorities requested that specific mandatory adjustment measures be implemented at the level of the Official Veterinary Services and private sector in Ecuador, and that missing information be shared. Brazil indicated that these measures - disease-specific monitoring plans, submission of samples and controls, training of staff and notification - were compulsory to allow imports of Ecuadorian shrimp into Brazil. Brazil explained that a final report with these various requests had been sent to the competent authorities in Ecuador, requesting a structured action plan integrating the mandatory measures within 60 days of receipt. However, Brazil reported it received Note 4-7-0/2015 from Ecuador past the proposed timeline and still there was no compliance with the established requirements, which justified the delay. Brazil stated that it was waiting to receive the structured action plan containing the requested changes at the official veterinary services and private sector levels. The information in this plan would be used to support the risk assessment phase of the IRA. Favourable results in the IRA, along with the finalized adjustment measures, would pave the way for authorizing shrimp imports from Ecuador.

In March 2017, Ecuador referred to its previously raised concern regarding Brazil's suspension of shrimp imports from Ecuador following the implementation of Regulation No. 39/99 on 4 November 1999. Shrimp imports were subject to authorization, once a prior risk analysis had been undertaken by the Animal Protection Department in Brazil. Ecuador argued that the measure was not based on scientific evidence or on a risk assessment, as required by Articles 2.2. and 5.1 of the SPS Agreement. Ecuador acknowledged Members' right under Article 5.7 to adopt provisional measures, but highlighted the obligation to obtain the necessary additional information for a more objective risk assessment and to review the measure in a reasonable period of time, whereas the measure at issue did not take into account Article 3.1 of the SPS Agreement or the OIE recommendations, particularly those in Chapters 2.2.2 and 2.2.7 of the Manual of Diagnostic Tests for Aquatic Animals.

Ecuador recalled that the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture had established a general procedure for undertaking import risk analysis of fish and fish products, as well as aquatic animals and propagating materials (Regulation No. 14). Ecuador insisted that it had provided sufficient information to Brazil, and noted that a group of technical experts from Brazil had visited various entities in Ecuador. Ecuador underscored that it had implemented a series of measures to guarantee the quality of its shrimp, however, no import risk assessment had been undertaken up to the last Committee meeting in October 2016. Ecuador highlighted the obligation under Annex C(1) of the SPS Agreement for Members to carry out a risk assessment with no undue delay.

Ecuador had been informed by its Embassy in Brasilia of the circulation of Memorandum Circular 6/2017/DSA-SDA/SDA/MAPA of February 2017, which established a series of animal health requirements for the import of shrimps. Ecuador welcomed this decision which would clarify the conditions under which shrimps could access their market, however, it was currently awaiting official confirmation of this information and further requested Brazil to provide this confirmation in a timely manner. Ecuador also raised a series of questions, which it requested Brazil to transmit to it competent authority, in relation to the product coverage of the Circular and authorization procedures, among others. Ecuador had also learnt of an Executive Decision to transfer the Aquaculture and Fisheries Secretariat of the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services. Ecuador expressed its concern that these administrative changes could result in undue delays, similar to delays experienced in 2015 due to the transfer of responsibilities to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Brazil indicated that it was unable to provide a complete response, since it had not been aware of the content of Ecuador's intervention. However, Brazil noted that the process for the authorization of shrimps from Ecuador was in its final phase and underscored that the process had taken into consideration the submissions from Ecuador, as well as all available scientific evidence. Brazil requested Ecuador to submit a written copy of its questions for onward communication to its capital.

In July 2017, Ecuador referred to its previously raised concern regarding Brazil's suspension of shrimp imports from Ecuador, and recalled that it had provided Brazil with all the requested evidence but that after almost 20 years there was still no risk assessment. Ecuador also noted that SPS requirements for shrimps had been established in February 2017 and that in May 2017 Brazil had informed Ecuador of its equivalency for the inspection system for shellfish, and that enabled plants were authorized to export. However, a group of Brazilian producers presented a court action which led to the suspension of the authorization to import shrimps from Ecuador. Ecuador highlighted the importance of exports for its economy and regretted the barriers imposed by Brazil on its most exported products, shrimp and bananas. Ecuador contended that Brazil's measures were not in conformity with various provisions of the SPS Agreement and Article XI of the GATT.

Brazil underlined its open market for imports of shrimps from Ecuador, as reflected in its letter No. 926/2017 sent on 9 May informing Ecuador's sanitary authorities of the recognition of equivalence of their fish inspection system. Brazil indicated that the plants previously qualified were allowed to export, prior approval of the labelling, while plants that had not yet been authorized to export had to request authorization. Finally, Brazil drew attention to its document "Animal Health Requirements of Brazil for the importation of non-viable crustaceans and derivatives derived from extractive fisheries or aquaculture", of January 2017.

In November 2018, Ecuador reiterated its concern over Brazil's Regulation 39, highlighting that since its adoption in 1999 Brazil had suspended imports of all species of crustaceans including fresh, frozen and cooked products from Ecuador. Ecuador recalled that SPS requirements for shrimps had been established in February 2017 and that in May 2017 Brazil had informed Ecuador of its equivalency for the inspection system for shellfish, and that enabled plants were authorized to export. However, a group of Brazilian producers had presented a court action which led to the suspension of the authorization to import shrimps from Ecuador. Ecuador further noted that the measure had been adopted for precautionary reasons, without taking into account sanitary requirements. Moreover, Ecuador contended that Brazil's measures were not in conformity with various provisions of the SPS Agreement and Article XI of the GATT. Finally, Ecuador regretted that despite various meetings with Brazil at the highest level, no official ruling had been made regarding the precautionary measure issued by the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil.

Brazil recalled its previous interventions, explaining that the approval process for shrimp imports considered all information received from Ecuador, including scientific evidence. Brazil explained that the animal health requirements for the importation of shrimps had been established in February 2017 under the regulation "Animal Health Requirements of Brazil for the importation of non-viable crustaceans and derivatives derived from extractive fisheries or aquaculture" (Circular Memorandum 6/2017/DSA.SDA/SDA/MAPA). In May 2017, the Brazilian market was opened for imports of shrimps from Ecuador, as reflected in letter No. 926/2017 informing Ecuador's sanitary authorities of the recognition of equivalence of their fisheries inspection system. Brazil explained that the recent suspension of exports by the Brazilian Supreme Court had only a preventive nature, highlighting that it had already established animal and health shrimp import requirements from Ecuador and had also recognized the equivalence of its fisheries inspection system. Brazilian Federal Executive authorities were providing all legal and technical information to guarantee fully informed judicial evaluations.