STC Number - 205

Slaughter of imported breeding cattle

Maintained by: Bolivia, Plurinational State of
Raised by: Mexico
Supported by:
First date raised: March 2005 G/SPS/R/36/Rev.1, paras. 45-47
Dates subsequently raised: June 2006 (G/SPS/R/42, paras. 19-20)
February 2007 (G/SPS/R/44, paras. 144-145)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0102 Live bovine animals.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Risk assessment; Zoonoses
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2005, Mexico stated that Bolivia had slaughtered a number of Mexican cows in 2004 on the grounds that Mexico was a high-risk country for BSE. Mexico considered this to be in breach of Articles 2.2, 2.3, 5, 6 and Annex C of the SPS Agreement. BSE was classified as an exotic illness in Mexico and had been included in both the immediate reporting list and, since 1994, in the programme for the training and dissemination of information regarding exotic illnesses of the United States-Mexican Commission for the Prevention of FMD and other exotic illnesses of Animals (CPA). At the end of 1996, the Mexican animal health authorities had implemented an epidemiological surveillance programme for BSE, based on the OIE recommendations, aimed at controlling the occurrence of BSE in the country and preventing its entry into the country even though Mexico had prohibited the import of animals and animal products from countries affected by BSE since 1991. Under that programme, each region of the country had a coordinator, reporting to the CPA, who was responsible for the training and monitoring of the personnel in slaughter houses.

Mexico also clarified that Mexico had in place a National Animal Health Emergency Mechanism (DINESA) to respond to any potential outbreak of BSE and a plan had been elaborated by the CPA to eradicate BSE as quickly as possible. He recalled the free from BSE status of his country and concluded that the issue with Bolivia had been resolved.

Bolivia clarified that the Mexican cattle had been exported to Bolivia for an agricultural fair and had arrived at Bolivia's airport without the relevant animal health permit. As a result, the Bolivian health authorities had required the re-exportation or the disposal of the cattle. Following a reasonable period of time during which the Mexican authorities had not reacted, the cattle had been slaughtered.

In June 2006, Mexico recalled that a Mexican association, FOGAMEX, had been invited to show some cattle at a fair in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Although the requirements communicated by Bolivia's animal health authority (SENASAG) had been fulfilled and an import permit had been obtained, when the cattle arrived in Bolivia, SENASAG had seized the animals and ordered that they be returned to Mexico. However, since foot and mouth disease exists in Bolivia while it does not exist in Mexico, it was not possible to return the animals to Mexico. After weeks of negotiations, and after the Bolivian authorities had revoked the import permit although the cattle had already arrived, Bolivia decided to slaughter the cattle. Months later, in the context of a lawsuit filed by FOGAMEX against SENASAG, the Bolivian Supreme Court in Santa Cruz found that SENASAG had withheld the import permits without legal basis and ordered SENASAG to cover the damages. Formal consultations held in La Paz, Bolivia, in 2005 had not led to an agreement. Since then, bilateral efforts had continued to try to obtain an official and public apology from the Bolivian Government and payment for damages caused.

Bolivia indicated that in the absence of OIE guidance, the competent Bolivian authorities had followed national and Andean Community sanitary requirements, which required a risk assessment before an import permit was issued. The animal health authorities received insufficient documentation to carry out a risk assessment only two days before the cattle arrived. According to the Andean regulations, the cattle thus had to be slaughtered or re-exported. After granting a reasonable period to allow the interested parties to organize the re-exportation of the cattle, which had not been possible, the Bolivian authorities had slaughtered the cattle to ensure adequate health protection in Bolivia and in the region. Bilateral efforts were underway to find a mutually satisfactory solution to Mexico's concern about the economic damage suffered by the Mexican exporter.

In February 2007, Mexico recalled that although Bolivia had issued permits for the entry of the Mexican breeding cattle for participation in a trade fair, upon their arrival Bolivia had refused entry and ordered that the cattle to be sent back to Mexico. This was not possible because FMD existed in Bolivia but not in Mexico. Bolivia had falsely claimed that Mexico was a high risk source of BSE, and had slaughtered the cattle. Although the Supreme Court of Santa Cruz in Bolivia had ordered payment of reparations to Mexico, this had not yet occurred.

Bolivia indicated that when the 25 head of cattle had arrived in Bolivia, his authorities realized that the procedures for this type of importation had not been properly applied (G/SPS/GEN/768). Before such importation could be permitted, Bolivia needed to complete a risk assessment for BSE, but this was not possible as not enough information had been provided by Mexico, nor was there sufficient time to complete the analysis. Bolivia had proposed returning the cattle to Mexico, as they had in fact arrived in an FMD-free area, but when Mexico refused to accept them, the cattle were slaughtered. Recognition of Mexico as BSE-free needed to be referred to the OIE. Bolivia noted that the company involved had not followed up on the judgement of the court.