STC Number - 450

Viet Nam's import restrictions in the draft law of animal production

Maintained by: Viet Nam
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Australia; Canada; Paraguay
First date raised: November 2018 G/SPS/R/93 paras. 3.13-3.17
Dates subsequently raised: March 2019 (G/SPS/R/94 paras. 3.76-3.79)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/VNM/82 G/SPS/N/VNM/95 G/SPS/N/VNM/95/Add.2
Products covered: Livestock products, including meat and poultry
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: International Standards / Harmonization; Maximum residue limits (MRLs); Food safety; Human health
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 2018, the United States raised its concern regarding Viet Nam's draft Livestock Production Law, which could restrict US exports of livestock products, including meat and poultry to Viet Nam. The United States thanked Viet Nam for the extensive bilateral discussions on the issue, but highlighted that its concerns had not been fully addressed. The United States observed that the law could be debated and voted on by Viet Nam's National Assembly as early as November 2018, and further requested that Viet Nam provide an update on the status of the draft law. In particular, the United States drew attention to Article 12, clause 7 of the draft law which would ban the import of livestock products produced using chemicals prohibited for domestic production in Viet Nam, despite assurances from Viet Nam that it would harmonize its MRLs for imported goods to Codex standards. The United States reminded Viet Nam of its obligations under the SPS Agreement, in particular Articles 3 and 5, and sought clarification on how Viet Nam would ensure that the measures taken on chemicals prohibited for domestic production were based on science. The United States also queried the appropriate level of protection that Viet Nam was seeking through such bans on domestic chemical usage in animal production, considering existing scientific evidence, including by Codex, which showed that such chemicals were being used to produce safe food. The United States encouraged Viet Nam to adopt Codex MRLs of veterinary drugs in foods, and requested Viet Nam to delay adoption of this law, until Article 12, clause 7 had been revised to align with Viet Nam's SPS commitments, and had addressed the identified trade concerns.

Canada shared the concerns raised by the United States with respect to the latest version of Viet Nam's draft law of animal production. Canada thanked Viet Nam for productive bilateral meetings, but expressed its concern regarding the provision contained in Article 12.7 that banned imports of products containing residues of veterinary drugs which were prohibited domestically in Viet Nam. This provision would ban imports of meat products that contained residues of several veterinary drugs, including ractopamine, for which there were existing Codex standards for safe use. Canada noted that this provision was essentially the same proposed ban that the Vietnamese Ministry of Health had notified on 7 September 2016, under G/SPS/N/VNM/82. On 4 November 2016, Canada had submitted detailed comments on that proposal, including a request that Viet Nam maintain MRLs for ractopamine and other veterinary drugs based on Codex MRLs and provide the rationale and scientific justification for taking a zero-tolerance approach. To date Viet Nam had not responded to Canada's formal comments. Canada indicated that it had held several bilateral meetings, including at the highest levels, raising concerns about Viet Nam's proposed ban. However, despite these meetings and Viet Nam's indication that the concerns of trading partners were being taken into account, the latest version of the draft law of livestock production (draft 6) of August 2018 contained a provision which would legislate essentially the same ban which Canada had been objecting to since 2016. Canada noted that Viet Nam had notified this draft law on 30 October 2018 as G/SPS/N/VNM/95/Add.2, providing Members with a 60-day comment period ending 29 December 2018. Canada observed that Viet Nam's National Assembly would be reviewing the draft law on 7 November 2018, and voting on it on 20 November 2018, prior to the end of the notification's comment period. As such, Canada requested that Viet Nam delay the review and voting on this draft law until after the conclusion of the comment period of the WTO notification, so that Viet Nam could take into account the comments of trading partners. In addition, Canada continued to request that Viet Nam remove the provision that banned imports of products containing residues of ractopamine and other veterinary drugs for which there were existing Codex standards for safe use. Canada also requested that Viet Nam maintain MRLs for ractopamine and other veterinary drugs based on Codex MRLs. Canada looked forward to continue working with Viet Nam to resolve this issue.

Paraguay stated its interest in this trade concern and indicated that it would continue to closely follow developments on this issue.

Viet Nam underscored its commitment to ensuring transparency, highlighting that it had notified its draft law on livestock production as G/SPS/N/VNM/95 on 10 March 2018. Viet Nam welcomed comments and feedback from all WTO Members on the matter. Viet Nam informed the Committee that the drafting agency, the Department of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, was still in the process of reviewing the draft law including comments from Members. Viet Nam noted that it had recently notified the final draft to the WTO on 30 October 2018 for further comments from Members. In relation to the ban on the chemicals, Viet Nam emphasized that its legislative system differed from that of other countries. Viet Nam explained that the three-step legislative process started with a more general law, which did not provide details for each substance, followed by a decree related to the designation of the duty and responsibility of the government agency and the competent authorities responsible for developing the list of substances and chemicals subject to the ban. Lastly, a Circular was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture to regulate in detail the substances to be banned, especially as it related to the group of beta-agonists, including ractopamine.

Viet Nam noted Canada's concerns with Circular No. 24 which had been notified in 2016, and would be reviewed in the future. Viet Nam explained that the Circular still remained in effect, which meant that Viet Nam accepted the residue levels of ractopamine which had been adopted according to the existing Codex guidance. Viet Nam underscored that its measures were based on international guidelines and that they did not constitute a disguised restriction on international trade.

In March 2019, the United States thanked Viet Nam for their bilateral meetings. The United States reiterated its concern raised in October 2018 about Viet Nam's Livestock Production Law and its potential adverse impact on trade. In particular, the United States drew attention to article 12.7 of the Livestock Production Law, which would ban the import of livestock products produced using chemicals prohibited for domestic production in Viet Nam, despite assurances from Viet Nam that it would harmonize its MRLs for imported goods to Codex standards. The United States sought information on when Viet Nam intended to notify a draft of the new implementing regulations of the Livestock Production Law to the WTO. The United States looked forward to continued engagement with Viet Nam on this issue.

Canada shared the concern regarding the final version of the Law of Animal Production, passed by the Viet Nam National Assembly on 20 November 2018. Canada was particularly concerned by article 12.7 (Strictly Prohibited Acts) which banned imports of products containing residues of veterinary drugs prohibited domestically in Viet Nam. Canada noted that this provision was essentially the same proposed ban that the Vietnamese Ministry of Health had notified in September 2016. On 4 November 2016, Canada had submitted detailed comments to that proposed ban, including a request that Viet Nam maintain MRLs for ractopamine and other veterinary drugs based on Codex MRLs and provide the rationale and scientific justification for taking a zero-tolerance approach. To date Viet Nam had not responded to Canada's comments. Canada regretted the passing of the law, but noted that Viet Nam had assured Members that they would have an opportunity to provide comments when Viet Nam proceeds with drafting implementing regulations. Canada requested an update on when Viet Nam intended to notify the Law's implementing regulations and looked forward to its bilateral meeting with Viet Nam.

Australia shared the concern, noting that the period for comments on the Law of Animal Production, as notified, was still open; which could indicate that the comments had not been taken into account. Australia encouraged Viet Nam to notify Members in a timely manner so that comments and concerns could be adequately addressed before the laws were adopted. Australia would provide complete comments when an SPS notification was made.

Viet Nam recalled that the Draft Livestock Law had been notified in G/SPS/N/VNM/95 on 12 March 2018, and the 6th Draft had been notified as G/SPS/N/VNM/95/Add.2 on 30 October 2018. Viet Nam welcomed comments and feedback of Members. At the end of 2018, Viet Nam's National Assembly had passed the Livestock Production Law, with effect from 1 January 2020; replacing the 2004 Law. The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development highlighted the adoption of the Law on Livestock Production as one of the outstanding agricultural events of 2018, with the ambition of fostering the development of Viet Nam's livestock industry. Viet Nam explained that it planned to amend the current list of prohibited substances and maintain Codex MRLs for several agrochemicals used in imported products. A number of legislative acts would guide the implementation of the Livestock Law. The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development was working closely with the Ministry of Health on the establishment of MRLs for agricultural chemicals in food so as to ensure that the regulation of residues of veterinary drugs in Viet Nam would be in line with international standards and practices for food safety. Viet Nam would notify the WTO of any updates and changes in the status of the Law and welcomed comments from WTO Members. Viet Nam reiterated that its regulations were based on guidelines from international standard setting organizations.