STC Number - 421

Thailand's import restriction on papaya seeds

Maintained by: Thailand
Raised by: Chinese Taipei
Supported by:
First date raised: March 2017 G/SPS/R/86, paras. 9.5-9.7
Dates subsequently raised: July 2017 (G/SPS/R/87, paras. 4.14-4.16)
November 2017 (G/SPS/R/88, paras. 3.32-3.33)
March 2018 (G/SPS/R/90, paras. 3.41-3.42)
July 2018 (G/SPS/R/92/Rev.1, paras. 3.48-3.49)
November 2018 (G/SPS/R/93, paras. 3.72-3.73)
Number of times subsequently raised: 5
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/THA/158
Products covered: 080720 - Papaws (papayas)

Papaya seeds
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords:
Status: Resolved
Solution: In November 2019, Chinese Taipei reported that STC No. 421 had been resolved through cooperation among both sides and appreciated Thailand's efforts to restore market access for its papaya seeds, based on scientific evidence, for the benefit of papaya producers, consumers, and exporters in both Members. Thailand thanked Chinese Taipei for its report and hoped to maintain a good working relationship in the future.
Date reported as resolved: 07/11/2019

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2017, Chinese Taipei referred to Thailand's import restrictions on papaya seeds. It observed that although a risk assessment had been conducted 9 years ago, and despite repeated requests, no proper response had been received from Thailand. Prior to 2008, papaya seeds had been exported to Thailand. Chinese Taipei observed that Thailand itself did not attribute the ban on papaya seeds to any pest issue in Chinese Taipei, but was simply the result of a regulatory amendment in 2007. Thailand had requested detailed information for conducting a risk assessment prior to reopening its market. However, Chinese Taipei argued that this approach was inconsistent with IPPC ISPM No.2 Framework for Pest Risk Analysis.

Chinese Taipei had provided detailed historical records of trade, as well as a pest list, in response to Thailand's request in April 2008. Additional data on papaya seed varieties had also been requested in June 2010 and promptly provided. Since then, Chinese Taipei had sought on multiple occasions an update on the progress of the risk assessment, without substantive response. In March 2016, Thailand further requested supplementary information on three kinds of pests with a risk of being spread by the papaya seed trade: Candidatus phytoplasma solani, Tobacco ringspot virus and Tomato spotted wilt virus. In response, Chinese Taipei had provided in August 2016 scientific evidence showing that there was no record of these pests being spread through the trade of papaya seed, and that these pests had never been found in papaya seeds in its territory. Discussions had taken place on the margins of the SPS Committee and Chinese Taipei indicated that the dossiers of scientific evidence, requested in October 2017, had now been received and would be reviewed by Chinese Taipei's experts, following which feedback would shortly be provided to Thailand's competent authority. Chinese Taipei also indicated that it looked forward to receiving the import protocols.

Chinese Taipei underscored its efforts to provide the relevant information in a timely manner and urged Thailand to move forward or to provide proper scientific justification, arguing that Thailand's restrictions were inconsistent with Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the SPS Agreement, as well as Article 7.2 of the International Plant Protection Convention. Chinese Taipei encouraged Thailand to comply with its WTO commitments, in particular Articles 5.6 and 5.8 of the SPS Agreement, and to re-open its market to papaya seeds without further undue delay.

In July 2017, Chinese Taipei referred to Thailand's import restrictions on papaya seeds. Although a risk assessment had been conducted nine years ago, and despite repeated requests, no proper response had been received from Thailand. Prior to 2008, papaya seeds had been exported to Thailand. Chinese Taipei observed that Thailand itself did not attribute the ban on papaya seeds to any pest issue in Chinese Taipei; it was the result of a regulatory amendment in 2007. Thailand had requested detailed information for conducting a risk assessment prior to reopening its market, but Chinese Taipei argued that this approach was inconsistent with IPPC ISPM No. 2 Framework for Pest Risk Analysis. Chinese Taipei had provided detailed historical records of trade, as well as a pest list, in response to Thailand's request in April 2008. Additional data on papaya seed varieties had also been requested in June 2010 and promptly provided. Since then, Chinese Taipei had sought an update on the progress of the risk assessment on multiple occasions, without substantive response.

Chinese Taipei also indicated that, after introducing the concern under the agenda item "Other Business" at the March 2017 SPS Committee meeting, Thailand had said that papaya seeds risked the spread of the pests Candidatus phytoplasma solani and Tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV). In July 2017, Thailand had indicated that it would remove Candidatus phytoplasma solani from its quarantine pest list and that it would further discuss its proposed risk mitigation measures for TRSV. Finally, Chinese Taipei urged Thailand to promulgate the import protocol for its papaya seeds, and insisted that the current import restriction was inconsistent with several provisions of the SPS Agreement and the IPPC.

Thailand drew attention to notification G/SPS/N/THA/158 of 2007, according to which prohibited products could only be imported after the completion of their pest risk analysis, providing an exemption to allow existing commodities' trade to continue until their pest risk analysis was completed. For the exemption to apply, however, the NPPO of the exporting country had to submit an import request with evidence of previous imports, which in the case of Chinese Taipei did not include papaya seeds. Thailand added that it had conducted a pest risk analysis for papaya seeds as a new commodity and had finalized its quarantine pest list, as communicated to Chinese Taipei's Department of Agriculture. Thailand announced that it was in the process of drafting the import protocol for papaya seeds, to be sent for approval by its Quarantine Technical Subcommittee. Thailand finally expressed its willingness to work closely on this matter with Chinese Taipei.

In November 2017, Chinese Taipei reiterated its concern on Thailand's import restriction on papaya seeds imposed since 2008. Chinese Taipei reported that it was currently reviewing Thailand's draft quarantine requirements for its papaya seeds. Chinese Taipei confirmed that the exported papaya seed was free from tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV) and urged Thailand to lift the import restriction and comply with its WTO obligations.

Thailand explained that the reason for the initial ban on the import of papaya seeds from Chinese Taipei was due to a regulatory amendment. An exemption was granted to existing traded commodities, but Chinese Taipei's request to include papaya seeds in the exemption was received only after the time-frame. Therefore, it faced a delay in its market access. Thailand added that the draft import protocol for papaya seeds had been approved by its Quarantine Technical Subcommittee. If it was accepted by Chinese Taipei, it would be submitted to Thailand's Pest Quarantine Committee for final approval to resume imports of papaya seeds from Chinese Taipei.

In March 2018, Chinese Taipei reiterated its concern regarding Thailand's import restriction on papaya seeds imposed since 2008. Chinese Taipei reported that it had reviewed Thailand's draft quarantine requirements for its papaya seeds and had submitted comments in January 2018, where it had indicated that the different modes of transportation had no effect on the pest risk of its papaya seeds. Chinese Taipei noted that it had proven that its measures could effectively control any risks relating to tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV) and further indicated that its exports of papaya seeds had never been intercepted or invaded by any pests. Chinese Taipei urged Thailand to lift the import restriction and comply with its WTO obligations.

Thailand responded that it had held several bilateral meetings with Chinese Taipei and that a draft import protocol, based on the available scientific information, had been submitted to Chinese Taipei in the last bilateral meeting. However, an agreement on the import protocol had not yet been reached. Thailand expressed its willingness to continue working with Chinese Taipei for the mutual resolution of this concern.

In July 2018, Chinese Taipei reiterated its concern regarding Thailand's import restriction on papaya seeds imposed since 2008. Chinese Taipei expressed appreciation to Thailand for the on-site visit by an expert delegation in May 2018. However, Chinese Taipei regretted that the issue had not been resolved, and urged Thailand to comply with Articles 2, 3 and 5 of the SPS Agreement and Article 7.2 of the International Plant Protection Convention and to finalise the legislative process to grant access to its papaya seeds as soon as possible.

Thailand reported on the progress made to resolve this issue, including a draft import protocol that had been agreed to by both sides and an on-site inspection in Chinese Taipei. Thailand added that it would propose the draft import protocol to the Committee on Plant Quarantine for approval, after which it would notify the measure to allow the importation of papaya seeds from Chinese Taipei.

In November 2018, Chinese Taipei reiterated its concern regarding Thailand's import restriction on papaya seeds imposed since 2008. Chinese Taipei expressed appreciation to Thailand for the proposal to submit the import protocol to the Committee on Plant Quarantine for approval. However, Chinese Taipei regretted that the final report had not been published and requested Thailand to adopt the final import protocol and ensure market access for its papaya seeds in Thailand.

Thailand welcomed the opportunity to provide clarifications on the concern raised by Chinese Taipei and stressed that the issue remained unsolved because Chinese Taipei failed to submit the request for export of papaya seeds under the transitory provision of the regulatory amendment. Thailand explained that during this transitory time all its trading partners, including Chinese Taipei, were informed to submit the request to apply the import exemption under the transitory provision. Thailand expressed its commitment to solve Chinese Taipei's concern.

In November 2019, Chinese Taipei reported that STC No. 421 had been resolved through cooperation among both sides and appreciated Thailand's efforts to restore market access for its papaya seeds, based on scientific evidence, for the benefit of papaya producers, consumers, and exporters in both Members.

Thailand thanked Chinese Taipei for its report and hoped to maintain a good working relationship in the future.