STC Number - 126

Import requirements for seed potatoes

Maintained by: Brazil
Raised by: Canada; European Union
Supported by: United States of America
First date raised: June 2002 G/SPS/R/27 paras. 24-26
Dates subsequently raised: November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28 paras. 63-68)
October 2003 (G/SPS/R/31 paras. 21-22)
June 2004 (G/SPS/R/34 paras. 55-56)
Number of times subsequently raised: 3
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 0701 Potatoes, fresh or chilled.
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Plant health; Risk assessment; Transparency
Status: Partially resolved
Solution: In June 2004, the representative of Canada informed the Committee that Brazil had made a number of adjustments to the levels of regulation of non-quarantine pests and the issue of Brazil's import requirements for seed potatoes had been resolved (G/SPS/R/34, paras. 55-56).
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2002, the representative of the European Communities reported that Brazil had notified new measures on imports of seed potatoes. As one of the main suppliers to Brazil, the European Communities had commented on the measures, in particular on the lack of delay for their implementation, the need for technical justification and the need to respect transparency. In its initial response Brazil had not addressed the EC's concerns and, in particular, had not identified the pest risk assessment justifying its measure. This information had been provided during bilateral consultations held before the SPS Committee meeting. The European Communities would examine this information and was looking forward to continuing the bilateral process with Brazil.

The representative of Canada expressed concern with Brazil's required export certification for non quarantine regulated pests, in contradiction to internationally agreed principles and practices. Canada was also involved in bilateral discussion with the Brazilian authorities and had requested Brazil to withdraw its measure.

The representative of Brazil acknowledged the EC and Canada's statements and indicated that since the last Committee meeting the parties had been involved in a bilateral process of consultations. He expected that subsequent technical consultations would resolve the issue.

In November 2002, the representative of Canada expressed concerns regarding Brazil's required certification for a pest that was not of economic significance nor of significant risk to plant health. Canada considered this to be an issue of quality that was more appropriately resolved between the buyer and the seller, and not by government certification schemes. Although Canadian technical officials were working with Brazil to complete a risk assessment, this issue was not being resolved as quickly as warranted.

The representative of the European Communities stated that on 13 November 2001, the Brazilian authorities had given notice of new measures on imports of seed potatoes. The European Communities were one of the main suppliers of this product to Brazil. He requested Brazil to modify its measures on the basis of the technical arguments and proposals that had been made bilaterally. The European Communities requested Brazil to postpone the implementation of these measures.

The representative of the United States shared the concerns expressed by both Canada and the European Communities concerning the disruption of trade in seed potatoes. The United States hoped that Brazil would revise their policy as soon as possible.

The representative of Brazil noted that his country had been carrying out consultations on the issue of seed potatoes for quite some time. Brazilian experts were considering a new proposal from the European Communities and hoped to provide a reply as soon as possible. The Brazilian Directive aimed at enhancing market opportunities in relation to previous regulations by creating two new categories of imports for seed potatoes. Brazil was interested in diversifying their source of suppliers of seed potatoes given the strategic importance of the sector for Brazil. Brazil emphasized that national producers were subject to the same considerations applicable to foreign providers, and his country's motivation could not be construed as aiming towards restricting market access for seed potatoes in Brazil. Brazil reiterated an invitation for the European Communities to send a team of experts to become familiar with their system, and witness the fact that national producers were subject to the same considerations as the foreign suppliers.

With respect to the comments made by Canada, Brazil recalled that the matter had been extensively discussed by authorities from both countries. The Brazilian legislation required that exporters of seed potatoes to Brazil had to have a certification system in place; apparently this was not the case for Canada. The representative from Brazil added that he would transmit the concerns voiced by the United States to the competent authorities.

The representative of Canada clarified that Canada had a certification system for seed potatoes but that Canada does not certify for minor pests that affect only quality. In response to Brazil invitation, the representative of the European Communities suggested that Brazil should send a team of experts to inspect the production and food safety conditions within the European Communities.

In October 2003, the representative of the European Communities explained that Brazil, which was the main market for EC seed potatoes, had notified its measure on 13 November 2001. Following discussions in the Committee and with Brazil in October 2002, the European Communities had presented a proposal for a possible solution which Brazil had agreed to study. However, the European Community had received no reaction or technical objections to the proposal. The representative of Canada explained his country had also raised the issue with Brazil in Committee and, most recently, bilaterally in February 2003, but there had been no resolution.

The representative of Brazil explained that his country was still considering the requirements and was in the process of discussing new regulations. However, he hoped this issue would be resolved shortly.

In June 2004, the representative of Canada informed the Committee that the issue of Brazil's import requirements for seed potatoes had been resolved, and Brazil had made a number of adjustments to the levels of regulation of non-quarantine pests. Canada reminded Members of the importance of notifying their SPS measures sufficiently in advance to provide an opportunity to comment before regulations are finalized to avoid future problems of this nature.

The representative of Brazil requested that G/SPS/GEN/204/Rev.4 (paragraphs 88-92) reflect that the issue had been resolved.