STC Number - 318

US failure to recognize South Patagonia as FMD-free and to import beef from north of the 42nd parallel

Maintained by: United States of America
Raised by: Argentina
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2011 G/SPS/R/63 paras 17-18
Dates subsequently raised: October 2011 (G/SPS/R/64 paras 96-97)
July 2012 (G/SPS/R/67 paras. 43-44)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: WT/DS447/1; WT/DS447/1/Corr.1; WT/DS447/2; WT/DS447/3; WT/DS447/R; WT/DS447/R/Add.1
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization; Foot and mouth disease
Status: Not reported
Solution: DSU consultations requested on 30/08/2012 (WT/DS447/1). Panel established on 28/01/2013. Panel composed on 08/08/2013; Panel report (WT/DS447/R and Add.1) adopted on 31/08/2015.
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2011, Argentina expressed its concern that the United States failed to recognize South Patagonia as a FMD-free region without vaccination, despite the OIE recognition of this status for South Patagonia since 2002. The request for recognition had been sent to the United States in 2003, and a risk analysis conducted in 2007 gave satisfactory results, however no recognition had been granted. Argentina was also concerned about the delay in the US authorization of imports of fresh, chilled and frozen beef from the region north of the 42nd parallel. The OIE recognized the rest of Argentina as an FMD-free area with vaccination in 2007. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) had carried out an audit in 2006, but had never reported the results. The delays in processing both of these requests were not due to scientific reasons and were therefore in contravention of Articles 3 and 6, and Annex C, of the SPS Agreement.

The United States stated that USDA was considering several requests from Argentina to allow imports of lamb and beef into the United States. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had made significant progress in recognizing the FMD-free status of South Patagonia. In light of the information Argentina provided in 2009, which was used to update the 2005 risk analysis, APHIS was able to conclude that the import of ruminants and ruminant products from this region presented a negligible risk of FMD. This information was used in preparing a draft report to Congress on the risk associated with importing ruminants or ruminant products from Southern Patagonia. By law, the report had to be submitted to the Congress before USDA could move forward with administrative rule-making. APHIS had also completed the risk analysis regarding the region north of the 42nd parallel and would subsequently draft a proposal to allow the importation of beef under certain conditions.

In October 2011, Argentina recalled the US comments that the information provided by Argentina was useful to prepare a report to Congress as required by the Agriculture and Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Act of 2009, Section 737. The United States had also indicated that APHIS had completed the risk analysis for the rest of Argentina and had drafted proposed regulations to allow for the importation of meat products. However, in spite of this, trade had not resumed and imports from Argentina continued to be restricted without any scientific basis. Argentina requested the United States to complete its risk analysis and allow access to the US market for meat products.

The United States stated that it was working closely with the Argentine authorities and APHIS had made significant progress in recognizing the FMD-free status of South Patagonia. APHIS had completed the risk assessment and was drafting a proposal to allow the importation of beef under certain conditions. When the assessment and rules were completed in the near future, the United States would be able to provide market access for Argentine beef.

In July 2012, Argentina reiterated its concerns regarding undue delays in the US authorization of imports of fresh, chilled or frozen bovine meat from FMD-free with vaccination areas, and in the recognition of areas as FMD-free without vaccination, requests made in 2006 and 2003, respectively. After finalizing its risk analysis, the United States had committed itself to allow imports of meat from FMD-free with vaccination areas, under certain conditions. The United States had also stated that the import of ruminants and ruminant products from the FMD-free without vaccination areas represented a negligible FMD risk to animal health. The United States had informed Argentina that it would prepare a report for the US Congress. Argentina questioned the need for the intervention of a political organ, and the legal basis for this process. Although the scientific phase had been completed with favourable results of the risk analysis for both areas, there had been no advancement on the requests. Argentina requested the United States to explain the delays in the administrative procedures to allow the import of meat from both areas of Argentina, and to indicate the time foreseen for the completion of the process.

The United States reported that in 2007 it had published a proposed rule recognizing Southern Patagonia as FMD-free. Several stakeholders had expressed grave concerns regarding the potential risks of the spread of FMD to the United States. Given this response, the US Congress had required USDA to submit a report to Congress regarding the FMD risk associated with importing animal products from Southern Patagonia in 2009. Since that time, USDA had been in consultation with the relevant stakeholders and legislative bodies to review the issue. Imports of cooked products from Argentina were not prohibited. The United States recognized the priority Argentina placed on the request and was committed to resolving the concern as expeditiously as possible.

In accordance with the provisions of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), Argentina requested consultations with the United States on 30 August 2012 (WT/DS447/1). The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established a panel on 28/01/2013 (WT/DS447/3). The DSB adopted the Panel report (WT/DS447/R and Add.1) on 31/08/2015.