STC Number - 451

Thailand's import fees related to approval procedures for live animals and/or animal products (G/SPS/N/THA/243)

Maintained by: Thailand
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by:
First date raised: November 2018 G/SPS/R/93, paras. 3.18-3.19
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/THA/243
Products covered: uncooked meat, poultry and meat offal
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 2018, the United States raised concerns regarding Thailand's food safety inspection fees, in the form of import permit fees on all shipments of uncooked meat, poultry and meat offal. The United States indicated that these fees, which had the same objective of preventing the spread of animal diseases as the corresponding domestic slaughtering fees for the same products, were significantly higher than the domestic fees, and appeared disproportionate to the cost of services rendered. The United States noted that despite several bilateral meetings held over a number of years, Thailand had still not provided a justification for the disparity between the two sets of fees. The United States underscored the obligation under Annex C, that any fees charged for the procedures on imported products be equitable in relation to those on like domestic products, and be no higher than the actual cost of the service. The United States argued that the higher fees acted as a disguised restriction on US exports, and requested Thailand to ensure that the fees levied on imported products were the same as those levied on domestic products.

Thailand highlighted the right of Members, as embodied in Article 2.1, to take SPS measures as necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health. Thailand explained that, in order to protect human and animal health, it was necessary to charge import inspection fees for both animal products and live animals of all species. These fees were set at the rate defined in the Ministerial Regulation under the Animal Epidemic Act. Thailand clarified that the fees covered the operational expenses related to the cost of food safety and veterinary inspection services, which were necessary to ensure that the products were free from microbial, biological and chemical hazards, as well as animal pathogens. Thailand underscored that no special or differential treatment was granted to any individual trading partner. Unlike for imported animal products, the inspection service fees for domestic products were charged to domestic business operators along each step of the food production chain. This was done to ensure that the products complied with national legislation and were safe for consumers. Thailand argued that the combined cost of the fees charged at each step which domestic producers had to bear was higher than the import inspection fee. For this reason, Thailand indicated that its approach complied with Annex C(1)(f) of the SPS Agreement.