STC Number - 435

Viet Nam's draft amendment to Circular 24 on MRLs for veterinary drugs

Maintained by: Viet Nam
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Canada; New Zealand
First date raised: March 2018 G/SPS/R/90 paras. 3.2-3.5
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/VNM/82
Products covered: Veterinary drugs
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Maximum residue limits (MRLs); International Standards / Harmonization; Human health; Sufficiency of scientific evidence; Veterinary drugs
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2018, the United States raised a concern regarding Viet Nam's draft amendment to Circular 24 (G/SPS/N/VNM/82) which, as currently drafted, would rescind MRLs for several veterinary drugs that were currently aligned with Codex MRLs. The United States observed that Viet Nam had not provided scientific justification for rescinding the Codex aligned MRLs. The United States indicated that it had welcomed the announcement by Viet Nam's Prime Minister, during his May 2017 visit to the United States, that Viet Nam would continue to follow Codex standards for the veterinary drug MRLs in question. However, there still remained uncertainty regarding the status of the proposed ban on certain veterinary drugs, since there was no official document indicating that the draft ban would not go into effect. The United States, while acknowledging appreciation for the extensive bilateral engagement with Viet Nam on the issue, indicated disappointment that the issue remained unresolved. The United States further urged Viet Nam to maintain MRLs for veterinary drugs in accordance with Codex standards and requested that Viet Nam notify an addendum to the WTO withdrawing G/SPS/N/VNM/82, in order to provide certainty for US exporters.

Canada shared the concerns of the United States regarding Viet Nam's draft amendment to Circular 24, which proposed zero tolerances for a number of veterinary drugs, including ractopamine, which already had a Codex MRL. Canada stated that Viet Nam's proposed zero tolerance approach would effectively ban imports of meat products containing any residue of these veterinary drugs, even if within the Codex established MRLs. Canada noted that it had submitted detailed comments on Viet Nam's notification (G/SPS/N/VNM/82), and requested the scientific justification for the zero tolerance approach. Despite several bilateral efforts to resolve the issue, Viet Nam had still not withdrawn its proposal nor made known its future intentions, which had resulted in uncertainty for Canadian meat exporters. Canada urged Viet Nam to withdraw its proposal, to inform the Committee of its withdrawal and to establish MRLs for ractopamine and other veterinary drugs, based on Codex MRLs.

New Zealand supported the concerns of the United States, in particular noting the lack of scientific justification for rescinding the Codex aligned MRLs.

Viet Nam welcomed Members' feedback and underscored its commitment to uphold transparency in the process. Viet Nam informed Members that its Ministry of Health was still in the process of reviewing the regulation and receiving comments from relevant authorities, with a view to finalize the draft regulation. Members would be notified once there was an update on the status of Circular 24. Viet Nam further stated that its regulation was based on the guidelines of international standard setting bodies and that there was no arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination against Members or disguised restriction to international trade.