STC Number - 245

Restrictions on US pork and poultry imports

Maintained by: Romania
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by:
First date raised: October 2006 G/SPS/R/43, paras. 25-27
Dates subsequently raised: June 2007 (G/SPS/R/45, paras. 38-39)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0203 Meat of swine, fresh, chilled or frozen.; 0206 Edible offal of bovine animals, swine, sheep, goats, horses, asses, mules or hinnies, fresh, chilled or frozen.; 0207 Meat and edible offal, of the poultry of heading 01.05, fresh, chilled or frozen.; 0209 Pig fat, free of lean meat, and poultry fat, not rendered or otherwise extracted, fresh, chilled, frozen, salted, in brine, dried or smoked.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2006, the United States expressed concern about Romania's decision to already impose EC requirements on US poultry and pork, in advance of Romania's entry into the European Communities. This resulted in large financial losses to US exporters. The United States noted that no poultry and only two pork facilities in Romania met EC requirements. Romania's measures therefore raised potential national treatment concerns, given that a considerable number of Romanian meat plants were currently not in compliance with the EC regulations and many of the plants had been granted a transition period to 2009 to meet these requirements.
Romania expressed surprise that the United States had raised this issue as an acceptable solution to both parties had been sought during a series of bilateral meetings. Although Romania had decided to extend the implementation date of these regulations for US exports, the new regulations were adopted as part of the requirements for Romania's accession to the European Communities. According to the Accession Treaty signed on 25 April 2005, Romania had committed to adopt the EC legislation and was expected to fully comply with SPS legislation already in force in the European Communities before its accession on 1 January 2007. Romania noted the difficulty it faced in modifying and implementing these new rules, but indicated that Romanian producers observed the same rules as other EC member States and third countries. To ensure transparency and give Members the opportunity to prepare for the new import conditions, all Romanian legislation on import conditions for pork and poultry meat had been notified to the SPS Committee.
The European Communities suggested that the United States should look at the broader benefits of Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to the European Communities. This was fully supported by the global community and provided an outstanding opportunity for the Members concerned to strengthen economic growth and development.
In June 2007, the United States observed that prior to Romania's accession to the European Communities, the United States had successfully exported pork and poultry products to Romania. Since accession, poultry exports had ceased, while exports of pork and red meat had been drastically reduced. Although product imported into Romania was now required to meet EC standards, Romanian-produced goods benefited from a derogation until 2009. This appeared to be a direct violation of Article 2 of the SPS Agreement.
The European Communities observed that the issue had arisen because producers in countries which became members of the European Communities were required to either comply with the existing EC regulations or close. A limited number of Romanian establishments had been given a brief derogation while they chose to either upgrade their facilities or to close these down. The derogation was subject to strict conditions and these establishments were permitted to sell their products only in Romania. The United States should exercise some patience and understanding given the low living standards in Romania, which had so recently joined the European Communities. The immediate closure of all of these establishments would exacerbate the high unemployment situation of Romania.