STC Number - 40

Trade restrictions in response to cholera

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Tanzania
Supported by:
First date raised: March 1998 G/SPS/R/10, paras. 56-57
Dates subsequently raised: June 1998 (G/SPS/R/11, paras. 96-99)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/EEC/54
Products covered: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 08 Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons; 14 Vegetable plaiting materials; vegetable products not elsewhere specified or included; 0301 Live fish.; 0302 Fish, fresh or chilled, excluding fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 03.04.; 0303 Fish, frozen, excluding fish fillets and other fish meat of heading 03.04.; 0304 Fish fillets and other fish meat (whether or not minced), fresh, chilled or frozen.; 0305 Fish, dried, salted or in brine; smoked fish, whether or not cooked before or during the smoking process; flours, meals and pellets of fish, fit for human consumption.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; Risk assessment
Status: Partially resolved
Solution: Partially resolved: Measures revised
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 1998, the European Communities informed the Committee that it had taken safeguard measures with respect to imports of fruit, vegetables and fish products in light of a cholera outbreak in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique. The inspection procedures in these countries had shown deficiencies, but the European Communities planned to consult with them to find arrangements by which they could put in force proper hygiene requirements. EC member States were trying to develop a joint cholera policy based on risk assessment. The WHO observer did not consider the import ban necessary, especially on fish products which were not consumed in raw form in Europe. He drew attention to the WHO Guidance on Foundation of National Policy and Control of Cholera, and particularly the conclusion in Chapter IX that: "Although there is a theoretical risk of Cholera transmission associated with some food commodities moving in international trade, this has rarely proved significant and authorities should seek means of dealing with it other than by applying an embargo on importation".
In June 1998, Tanzania reported that the European Communities continued to prohibit the importation of fresh, frozen and processed fishery products from the four African countries, although tests had not found the bacteria concerned. Tanzania stressed that the EC ban was having severe economic effects on the Tanzanian economy, and that according to the SPS Agreement, Members should help developing countries comply with their SPS measures. The European Communities responded that it was now satisfied the necessary guarantees were in place, and that a new measure restoring trade with the four African countries would probably enter into force on 1 July 1998.