STC Number - 392

China's import restrictions due to African swine fever

Maintained by: China
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: July 2015 G/SPS/R/79, paras. 3.9-3.10
Dates subsequently raised: October 2015 (G/SPS/R/81, paras. 3.66-3.67)
March 2016 (G/SPS/R/82, paras. 3.41-3.42)
June 2016 (G/SPS/R/83, paras. 4.13-4.14)
October 2016 (G/SPS/R/84, paras. 3.42-3.43 )
March 2017 (G/SPS/R/86. paras. 3.33-3.35)
July 2017 (G/SPS/R/87, paras. 4.43-4.44)
November 2017 (G/SPS/R/88, paras. 3.35 - 3-36)
March 2018 (G/SPS/R/90, paras. 3.45-3.46)
Number of times subsequently raised: 8
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0103 Live swine.; 0203 Meat of swine, fresh, chilled or frozen.; 0209 Pig fat, free of lean meat, and poultry fat, not rendered or otherwise extracted, fresh, chilled, frozen, salted, in brine, dried or smoked.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; International Standards / Harmonization; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In July 2015, the European Union raised concerns about China's bans due to African Swine Fever (ASF) and indicated that the vast majority of EU trading partners did not take any import measures against the European Union on African Swine Fever (ASF) grounds because they fully trusted the strict EU control system. China had imposed a ban on EU pork and pork products since February 2014 without applying regionalization, any scientific justification, or clarification on how and when it would recognise the stringent zoning measures put in place in the European Union to allow the prompt resumption of safe trade despite continuously receiving information from the European Union about these stringent control, surveillance and monitoring measures. The European Union had requested several times that China provide a risk assessment justifying the country-wide ban and the non-recognition of the EU zoning measures, but China had failed to respond. The European Union asked China to respect its regionalization obligations under the SPS Agreement and to allow the trade of all safe products.
China replied that its measures were entirely based on science and safety considerations. It highlighted the threat represented by ASF in the world, and the fact that China was a major pig producer, and as such subject to great losses in case the disease entered the country. China indicated that the measures were in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations that prohibited imports of relevant animals and animal products from countries infected by ASF. Finally, China stated that it needed to evaluate further the measures taken by the European Union, since a number of cases of ASF had still been detected in recent months in the region of Podlaskie, Poland.

In October 2015, the European Union again raised concerns about China's bans due to African swine fever (ASF). China had imposed a ban on EU pork and pork products since February 2014 without applying regionalization, and without scientific justification or clarification on how and when it would recognize the stringent zoning measures put in place in the European Union to allow the prompt resumption of safe trade. The European Union had requested several times that China provide a risk assessment justifying the country-wide ban and the non-recognition of the EU zoning measures, but China had failed to respond. The European Union asked China to respect its regionalization obligations under the SPS Agreement and to allow trade of safe products.
China replied that its measures were entirely based on science and safety considerations. It was a major pig producer, and as such subject to great losses in case the disease entered the country. China indicated that the measures were in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations and stated that it needed to further evaluate the EU measures, since a number of ASF cases had still been detected in recent months in the region of Podlaskie, Poland.

In March 2016, the European Union again raised concerns about China's bans due to African swine fever (ASF). China had imposed a ban on EU pork and pork products since February 2014 without applying regionalization, and without scientific justification or clarification on how and when it would recognize the stringent zoning measures put in place in the European Union to allow the prompt resumption of safe trade. The European Union highlighted that, like China, it was an important pork producer and thus needed to be prudent, citing the free flow of goods through the EU market as an example of guaranteeing3 safe trade within its own market, but also for its exports. The European Union had requested several times that China provide a risk assessment justifying the country-wide ban and the non-recognition of the EU zoning measures, but China had failed to respond. The European Union asked China to respect its regionalization obligations under the SPS Agreement and to allow trade of safe products.
China replied that its measures were entirely based on science and safety considerations. It was a major pig producer, and as such subject to great losses in case the disease entered the country. China indicated that the measures were in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations and stated that it needed to further evaluate the EU measures, since five outbreaks in wild pigs had been reported in 2016, suggesting that the disease might still exist in wild pigs in Poland. China encouraged the European Union to take effective measures to control the spread of ASF.

In June 2016, the European Union again raised its concern regarding China's country-wide ban on Poland due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in early 2014. Firstly, the European Union noted that the ban must be in line with the SPS Agreement which required Members to recognize the concept of pest- or disease-free areas in their legislation, as confirmed by the panel report in India Agricultural Products (DS430). Secondly, the European Union argued that China had not provided information on its procedures, including its processing period, to recognize regionalization and further urged China to provide this information. Thirdly, the European Union requested China to provide a risk assessment justifying the country-wide ban and non-recognition of the EU zoning measures. The European Union further underscored the effectiveness of its regionalization measures and highlighted its efforts to provide all the necessary evidence to China in order to demonstrate that safe trade could take place. The European Union urged China to respect its obligations under the SPS Agreement and to allow trade of all safe products from disease-free zones without further delay.
China replied that its measures were entirely based on science and safety considerations, highlighting that before the ASF outbreaks, the trade of pig and pig products between China and the European Union had been smooth. China noted that it was the largest pig producer in the world and as such subject to great losses in case the disease entered the country. Therefore, the ban had been imposed in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations, as well as the SPS Agreement. China clarified that its measures prohibited the import of relevant animals and animal products from all ASF-infected Members, and were not targeted at any individual Member. In 2016, ASF outbreaks in domestic and wild pigs had been reported in Poland, and as such, China had found it necessary to conduct a further evaluation of the measures taken by the European Union to control the disease, including its inspection range and sampling distribution. China indicated its willingness to continue discussions at a technical level.

In October 2016, the European Union again raised its concern regarding China's country-wide ban on pork products from Poland due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in early 2014. The European Union noted the lack of transparency demonstrated by China in this case and expressed concerns about the prospects of China lifting the ban in the future. The European Union noted that it was also an important pig producer and, like China, needed to be prudent regarding animal diseases, such as ASF. The European Union stated that the free flow of pig products on its own market had proven, time after time, that it dealt with animal disease outbreaks in an effective manner - also for exports. The European Union noted that the ban was not in line with the SPS Agreement's principle of regionalization and the OIE's concept of disease-free zones, as confirmed by the panel report in India - Agricultural Products (DS430). The European Union argued that China had not provided information on its procedures and anticipated timeline to recognize regionalization and further urged China to provide this information. The European Union declared that the country-wide ban in place was not supported by scientific justification and requested China to provide a risk assessment. The European Union urged China to respect its obligations under the SPS Agreement (namely Articles 3, 5, 6 and 8) and to allow, without further delay, trade of all safe products from disease-free zones.

China recalled that ASF was one of the most serious infectious diseases for pigs, and that the bans imposed by China on infected countries were based on science and safety considerations. China stated that great importance was attached to this issue and its international obligations were respected. China noted that before the ASF outbreaks, the trade of pig and pig products between China and the European Union had been smooth. In 2016, ASF outbreaks in domestic and wild pigs had been reported in Poland, and as such, China had found it necessary to conduct a further evaluation of the measures taken by the European Union. China reminded Members that it was the largest pig producer in the world and could be subject to great losses if the disease were to enter the country, and that the ban had been imposed in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations. China reported that a technical group had been established to deal with this issue, and encouraged the European Union to continue exchanging information within the bilateral setting in order to enhance mutual understanding.

In March 2017, The European Union again raised its concern regarding China's country-wide ban on pork products from Poland due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in early 2014. The European Union recalled that China had indicated that its measures were science-based and that its laws and regulations prohibited the imports of relevant animals and animal products from countries where African swine fever was present, and that China would evaluate further the measures taken by the European Union. The European Union noted that the ban imposed by China was not in line with the SPS principle of regionalization and the OIE concept of disease-free zones, as confirmed by the Panel Report in Russian Federation — Measures on the Importation of Live Pigs, Pork and Other Pig Products from the European Union (DS475) and earlier by the panel on India – Measures Concerning the Importation of Certain Agricultural Products (DS430). The European Union urged China to provide information on its procedures and its anticipated timeline to recognize regionalization. The European Union observed China's lack of transparency and that its country-wide ban was not supported by scientific justification. The European Union requested China to provide a risk assessment and to respect its obligations under the SPS Agreement (namely Articles 3, 5, 6 and 8 and Annex C).

The European Union highlighted the adoption by the Dispute Settlement Body of the Panel Report, as amended by the Appellate Body Report, on Russia – Pigs (EU) (DS475), in which the European-wide and Poland-wide bans on those products were found to be WTO-inconsistent for not being based on international standards, nor on a risk assessment and for failure to adapt SPS measures to the disease-free characteristics of some regions. The European Union welcomed the establishment of a Working Group between China and Poland to discuss the matter and urged China to allow trade of all safe products from disease-free zones without further delay.

China noted that before the ASF outbreaks, the trade of pig and pig products between China and the European Union had been smooth, and that the bans it imposed on infected Members were based on science and safety considerations. China stated that it attached great importance to the issue and respected its international obligations and that its measure was non-discriminatory and consistent with the SPS Agreement. China reminded Members that it was the largest pig producer in the world and could be subject to great losses if the disease were to enter the country, and that the ban had been imposed in line with relevant Chinese laws and regulations. China found it necessary to conduct a further evaluation of the measures taken by the European Union. China highlighted the 47 ASF outbreaks reported by the OIE in Poland in 2017, and while China noted the measures applied by Poland, it remained cautious on whether the inspection range, sampling distribution and wild boars-catching area could control the disease. China encouraged the European Union to pursue cooperation within the bilateral technical setting in order to further strengthen information exchange.

In July 2017, the European Union again raised its concern regarding China's country-wide ban on pork products from Poland due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in early 2014. The European Union thanked China for their bilateral discussions and hoped this would lead to further engagement. The European Union reiterated that China's legislation appeared not to allow for recognition of disease-free areas, despite OIE standards; urged China to provide information on its procedure and the anticipated processing time to recognize the European Union's zoning measures; and requested China to provide its scientific risk assessment for maintaining a country-wide ban instead of accepting importation from disease-free areas in Poland. The European Union stated that they had provided China with all the necessary evidence to demonstrate that there were disease-free areas in Poland and that they were likely to remain disease-free.

China fully understood the concern of the European Union, but emphasized the acute, virulent and highly contagious insect-borne infectious nature of ASF, with China's pig population accounting for over 50% of the world's pig population. China noted that ASF had become endemic in Poland, according to data that Poland had notified to OIE. Despite Poland's implementation of control measures, including regionalization, it had not effectively blocked ASF from spreading. China was therefore still unable to recognize regionalization and other measures adopted by Poland. China remained open to bilateral technical cooperation and emphasized their joint technical expert group.

In November 2017, the European Union again raised concerns over China's country-wide ban on pork products from several EU member States due to the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF). The European Union recalled that the issue had first been raised in July 2015, without a positive response from China to date. The European Union stressed its regionalisation measures and the evidence presented to guarantee safe trade, urging China to recognize the concept of disease-free areas and respect its regionalization obligations in compliance with the SPS Agreement and OIE standards. The European Union also requested that China provide information on its procedure to recognize disease-free areas and on its standard processing period, and that China ensure that these procedures were undertaken and completed without undue delay. The European Union was encouraged by recent developments including the organization of a seminar in China with the relevant authorities to discuss a possible way forward and hope that this dialogue will deliver concrete results in the coming months.

China explained that it had implemented regionalization management measures, but remained cautious regarding major animal epidemic diseases that had never occurred in China, such as ASF, considering its stock density and limited epidemic disease control ability. Recently, African swine fever was still spreading in Europe. According to the rules of the SPS Agreement and China's current protection ability, China had to strictly prohibit imports of animals and animal products with a high risk.

In March 2018, the European Union again raised concerns over China's country-wide ban on pork products from Poland and other EU member States due to African swine fever (ASF). The European Union recalled that the issue had first been raised in July 2015, without a positive response from China to date. The European Union emphasized its regionalization measures and the evidence presented to guarantee safe trade, urging China to recognize the concept of disease-free areas and respect its regionalization obligations in compliance with the SPS Agreement and OIE standards. The European Union also requested that China provide information on its procedure to recognize disease-free areas and on its standard processing period, and that China ensure that these procedures were undertaken and completed without undue delay. The European Union indicated its willingness to continue working intensively and constructively with China towards finding a common solution, in line with international standards and obligations.

China highlighted the serious nature of ASF, noting that there was no effective vaccine to date, and that this disease had shown a continuous spread in Europe, in recent years. China confirmed that there had been no occurrence of ASF in China, and further indicated that according to the SPS Agreement and China's current protection ability, China had to strictly prohibit imports of animals and animal products with a high risk.