STC Number - 62

Restrictions on imports of horses

Maintained by: India
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: March 1999 G/SPS/R/14 para. 20
Dates subsequently raised: October 2006 (G/SPS/R/43 paras. 22-24)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/112
Products covered: 0101 Live horses, asses, mules and hinnies.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 1999, the representative of the European Communities expressed concern about the interruption of trade in horses with India, which had been regular in the past. Bilateral contacts had failed to identify the health guarantees necessary to export horses to India. In particular, import restrictions were based on the presence of contagious equine metritis (CEM). The European Communities questioned the justification of India going beyond the requirements established in the relevant OIE Code, and asked India to respond to a number of specific questions contained in document G/SPS/GEN/112.

In October 2006, the representative of the European Communities raised concerns regarding India's import conditions for live horses from some EC member States on the basis of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM). India's requirements that allowed only for the importation of breeding horses from countries which had been free of CEM for a minimum of three years was not based on standards and recommendations, in particular Article of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code which set conditions of live horses to be exported safely in respect of CEM. India had not provided any scientific justification for import requirements containing higher protection measures than reflected in international standards, and thus was not complying with Article 3.3 of the SPS Agreement. Despite numerous bilateral discussions on the issue during 2005 and 2006, no progress had been made. No response had been received to a document submitted by the United Kingdom in January 2006 with further scientific evidence that export of breading horses from that country posed no risk for the Indian equine population. The representative of the European Communities urged India to bring their import requirements for CEM in line with OIE recommendations.

The representative of India stated that India allowed the import of live horses, including breeding horses, under existing health protocols. Although it was free from CEM, India allowed imports of male horses less than seven years of age and female horses less than five years of age. The representative of India indicated that some CEM-positive countries from the European region were regularly exporting live horses to India. With regard to the OIE guidelines, consultation with the relevant technical experts was being done and a report on the issue was expected very soon. India was willing to discuss the issue bilaterally with the European Communities.

The representative of the European Communities stressed the fact that some EC member States were experiencing restrictions on the export of live horses to India, and welcomed the opportunity for further bilateral discussions.