STC Number - 512

Panama's restrictions and procedure to regain access for Peruvian potatoes and onions

Maintained by: Panama
Raised by: Peru
Supported by: Costa Rica
First date raised: March 2021 G/SPS/R/101 paras. 3.15-3.17
Dates subsequently raised: July 2021 (G/SPS/R/102 paras. 4.162-4.164)
November 2021 (G/SPS/R/104 paras. 3.154-3.156)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/1905 G/SPS/GEN/1938 G/SPS/GEN/1976
Products covered: Potatoes and onions
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Undue delays; Sufficiency of scientific evidence; Appropriate level of protection; Risk assessment; Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2021, Peru raised concerns regarding Panama's import restrictions for Peruvian onions and potatoes and undue delays in the phytosanitary procedures to regain market access. Peru noted that Panama had suspended onion imports from Peru in 2016 following a pest risk analysis (PRA) undertaken to update its phytosanitary import requirements. Concerning trade in potatoes, Peru indicated imports had been suspended by Panama since 2009 due to the detection of a pest. Peru had shared in 2010 a phytosanitary protocol proposal with Panama, on which no response had been provided. Peru considered Panama's measures to be inconsistent with Articles 2.2, 5, 5.4 and 8, and Annex C of the SPS Agreement. Peru emphasized that Panama had continuously requested information which had been previously sent by Peru in a timely manner, causing unnecessary delays. Peru requested Panama to reopen the market for Peruvian onion and potato exports and avoid unjustified barriers to trade.

Costa Rica supported this concern regarding the practices implemented by Panama which restricted trade through measures lacking a scientific basis and risk analysis. Costa Rica called upon Panama to address Members' concerns, which were indicative of an inadequate application of SPS measures and a non-observance of the obligations in the SPS Agreement.

Panama explained that these trade concerns were being addressed bilaterally through a technical commission.

In July 2021, Peru raised concerns about Panama's restrictions and undue delays in granting access to Peruvian potatoes and onions. In Peru's view, Panama's measures were in violation of Articles 2.2, 5, 5.4 and 8 and Annex C of the SPS Agreement. Peru indicated that Panama had suspended the importation of onions in 2016 on the basis of an updated pest risk analysis (PRA). Trade in potatoes had been suspended in 2009 following the interception of a pest in a consignment at destination; Peru regretted the lack of response at the phytosanitary protocol for the exportation proposed in 2010. Panama's market was kept closed for potatoes and onions, and no response was provided to Peru's information and communications, including G/SPS/GEN/1905. Peru requested Panama to reopen the market to Peruvian potato and onion exports and to avoid unnecessary and unjustified barriers to trade. More information is available in document G/SPS/GEN/1938.

Costa Rica reiterated its concerns on Panama's practice of implementation of SPS measures which, in some cases, led to total restrictions of trade namely of a wide range agricultural products. Costa Rica asked Panama to take into account Members' concerns, which noted an inappropriate implementation of SPS measures and a non-compliance of the obligations established in the Agreement.

Panama took note of Peru's comments and recalled that a technical commission was addressing the concerns bilaterally.