STC Number - 431

South Africa's import restrictions on poultry due to highly pathogenic avian influenza

Maintained by: South Africa
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: November 2017 G/SPS/R/88 paras. 3.11-3.12; See also STC 385, STC 406
Dates subsequently raised: March 2018 (G/SPS/R/90 paras. 3.52-3.53)
July 2018 (G/SPS/R/92/Rev.1 paras. 4.51-4.52)
November 2018 (G/SPS/R/93 paras. 3.66-3.67)
March 2019 (G/SPS/R/94 paras. 3.89-3.90)
July 2019 (G/SPS/R/95 paras. 4.74-4.75)
November 2019 (G/SPS/R/97/Rev.1 paras. 3.54-3.55)
Number of times subsequently raised: 6
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0105 Live poultry, that is to say, fowls of the species Gallus domesticus, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea fowls.; 0207 Meat and edible offal, of the poultry of heading 01.05, fresh, chilled or frozen.

Poultry products.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization; Animal health; Animal diseases; Avian Influenza; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 2017, the European Union raised concerns over country-wide bans on imports of poultry products from several EU member States due to HPAI, despite most of them have been recognized as free from HPAI for months. The European Union explained that South Africa's decision not to accept HPAI zoning even after it had received relevant evidence disregarded the regionalization obligation under the SPS Agreement. The European Union noted that this situation has significant impacts on EU trade of poultry to South Africa. The European Union highlighted its bilateral engagement with South Africa, including a study visit to the European Union in 2016.

South Africa acknowledged past discussions with the European Union and the visit to understand the EU regionalization mechanism that took place in 2016. South Africa however expressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of the control and preventive measures in the European Union, and noted it would have another visit to assess these controls.

In March 2018, the European Union reiterated concerns over country-wide bans on imports of poultry products from several EU member States due to HPAI, despite all but one of them having been recognized as free from HPAI for months. The European Union recalled the OIE standard which stated that HPAI-related trade restrictive measures could be lifted after the application of a stamping out policy. This stamping out policy had been implemented in the affected areas of the European Union, and all trading partners, including South Africa, had been informed of this and other developments. The European Union explained that South Africa's decision not to accept HPAI zoning even after receiving relevant evidence disregarded the international standard and regionalization obligation under the SPS Agreement. The European Union indicated its bilateral engagement with South Africa, including an audit visit to three EU member States, and further urged South Africa to lift the country-wide bans without delay.

South Africa repeated its concerns regarding the effectiveness of HPAI-related control and preventive measures in the European Union. South Africa indicated its commitment to conduct inspection missions to EU member States, in order to evaluate the control measures and to ensure that no risk would be posed in poultry trade. South Africa further informed the Committee that its inspectors were currently in Spain, after having visited Hungary and Poland, following which the outcome of these visits would be communicated to the European Union.

In July 2018, the European Union regretted to report that South Africa still did not apply regionalization, and maintained country-wide bans on imports of poultry products from several EU members States due to HPAI. The European Union stressed that all but one of the EU member States concerned had been recognized as free from HPAI for months; that OIE standards stated that HPAI-related trade restrictive measures could be lifted three months after the whole country, or part of it, regained freedom of HPAI, following the application of a stamping-out policy; and that OIE requirements had been strictly applied by the European Union. The European Union further reported that South Africa had audited three EU member States: Spain, Poland and Hungary. The European Union also stressed that the HPAI outbreak in the European Union had been the result of the movement of migratory birds, and not the result of international trade in poultry products. Finally, the European Union urged South Africa to lift the remaining country-wide bans to EU member States.

South Africa repeated its concerns on the effectiveness of HPAI-related controls and preventive measures in the European Union. Preliminary inspections had been conducted in Hungary, Poland and Spain, and reports had been sent to each country, requesting factual corrections and additional information. The inspections had shown differences in the implementation of OIE standards by EU members States. Finally, South Africa informed the Committee that it was considering ways to progress with the remaining EU member countries still affected by trade bans.

In November 2018, the European Union regretted to report that South Africa still did not apply regionalization, and maintained country-wide bans on imports of poultry products from several EU members States due to HPAI. The European Union stressed that these restricted and unjustified measures had been maintained by South Africa despite the fact that EU member States affected by the bans had been recognized as free from HPAI for months; that OIE standards stated that HPAI-related trade restrictive measures could be lifted three months after the whole country, or part of it, regained freedom of HPAI, following the application of a stamping-out policy; and that OIE requirements had been strictly applied by the European Union. The European Union considered these measures to be in contradiction to Article 6 of the SPS Agreement, which required recognition of the concept of disease free areas. The European Union reported that South Africa had audited three EU member States and was aware that the HPAI outbreak in the European Union had resulted from the movement of migratory birds, and not the result of international trade in poultry products. The European Union further had explained its control measures and regionalization system in bilateral discussions with South Africa. The European Union expressed its willingness to further discuss any necessary guarantee to minimize the disruption of trade in future outbreaks, in line with OIE Code. Finally, the European Union urged South Africa to respect its obligations and allow trade in all poultry products from the disease-free zones without any further delay.

South Africa repeated its concerns on the effectiveness of HPAI-related controls and preventive measures in the European Union. Preliminary inspections had been conducted in Hungary, Poland and Spain and reports would be sent. South Africa also reported that it had engaged in bilateral discussions with the European Commission in Johannesburg on 9-10 October 2018. South Africa highlighted that it had never doubted the EU legislation on the control of HPAI. However, the inspections had shown differences in the implementation of the legislation by EU members States. Furthermore, South Africa noted that in some parts the EU legislation was not equivalent to OIE guidelines. Finally, South Africa informed the Committee that it was considering different options to facilitate the evaluation of HPAI control implemented in the European Union, once freedom was declared.

In March 2019, the European Union regretted that South Africa maintained country-wide bans on poultry products from six EU member States due to HPAI, even though all affected EU members had been free from avian influenza for many months. Explanations on control measures and the EU regionalization system had been provided to South African authorities. In addition, a joint seminar and a study visit from South Africa had taken place in January 2019, while three EU member States had been inspected and had held bilateral discussions. The European Union remained ready to further engage with South Africa.

South Africa restated its concerns regarding avian influenza controls in the European Union. Some parts of the EU legislation that governed HPAI situations in the European Union did not seem to provide equivalence with OIE guidelines, which South African authorities relied on to ensure smooth trade while protecting the population. South Africa would nonetheless continue to engage constructively on this issue.

In July 2019, the European Union reported that South Africa did not apply regionalization and maintained country wide-bans on poultry products from six EU member States on grounds of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), even though those EU member States were free from HPAI. The European Union informed Members it was in discussions with South Africa about its control measures and regionalization system, including a study visit and a joint seminar in January 2019 and a South African inspection of three EU member States. The European Union asserted that its regionalisation measures were fully compliant with OIE recommendations. The European Union reiterated its call to South Africa to allow trade of all safe poultry products from disease-free EU member States and disease-free zones.

South Africa referred Members to its comments at the March 2019 SPS Committee meeting and noted that its delay had been due to challenges, including insufficient information received. South Africa highlighted a bilateral dialogue that had taken place in Brussels earlier that week and was positive about future market access for the remaining EU member States.

In November 2019, the European Union reiterated its ongoing concern with South Africa's approach to regulating HPAI. The European Union regretted that South Africa maintained country-wide bans on poultry products from six EU member States, even though these States had been free from HPAI for many months. The European Union had been in discussions with South Africa to explain its regionalization system, which was implemented in line with the OIE standards. South Africa had also carried out inspections in three EU member States. The European Union called for South Africa to respect its obligations and allow trade of all safe poultry products from the disease-free EU member States and expressed its willingness to engage in further discussions to minimize disruptions in case of future outbreaks.

South Africa responded that it had previously expressed concerns in the SPS Committee about control of HPAI within the European Union, specifically, on application of regionalization as per the OIE guidelines. In a bilateral meeting with the European Union on 28 October 2019, South Africa had discussed the issue of regionalization and provided feedback on the progress with the evaluation of information provided by EU member States. South Africa remarked that both parties had agreed to continue to engage constructively on this matter.