Cablegate: October 8-9, 2008, Wto Sanitary and Phytosanitary (Sps)

R 031552Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary:
The Forty-Second Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures was held
October 8-9, 2008. The U.S. delegation was headed by Jane Doherty,
(USTR), and included Christine Brown (Commerce), Mary Lisa Madell
(APHIS), Daniella Taveau (EPA), Thomas Westcot (FAS), Ann Ryan
(State), Debbie Subera-Wiggin and Camille Brewer (FDA), and Sharon
McMurtrey (FSIS). On the margins of the meeting, bilateral
discussions were held with Argentina, Colombia, China, the Dominican
Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, St. Lucia, and Taiwan. In
addition, the delegation met with the SPS Quad (U.S., New Zealand,
Australia, and Canada) and the SPS Trade Quad (U.S., EC, Japan, and
Canada). Separate workshops on good practice in SPS-related
technical assistance occurred October 6. Two informal meetings
regarding special and differential treatment and review of the
agreement were held October 7. A small working group also met to
discuss private standards on the sidelines of the meeting. The
following summary contains the highlights of the meeting. For more
detailed information regarding the events of the meeting, please
contact Jane Doherty, USTR ( End

2. The United States described the upcoming change in regulatory
authority over catfish from FDA to USDA.

3. For the first time, the United States raised the issue of
Taiwan's ban on the use of Ractopamine, a veterinary drug used to
promote porcine growth. Taiwan responded that many WTO members
prohibit Ractopamine use and that Codex has not finalized a
Ractopamine standard.

4. The United States intervened again to raise concerns with the
Japanese pesticide enforcement policy for those maximum residue
limits (MRLs) that are higher than Japan's. Under current policy,
importers are subject to 30 percent testing after one violation from
the importing country, and 100 percent test and hold after two
violations from the same country within a year. New Zealand and
China supported the U.S. intervention. Japan suggested that the
U.S. discuss cases individually at the technical level rather than
the broader policy on the WTO floor.

5. The United States also rose in support of the EC intervention
against India regarding their import ban on poultry and swine due to
AI concerns. India firmly insisted on maintaining its policy
because of fears that AI strains could mutate, and suggested that
technical discussions could occur. The U.S. welcomed the
suggestion. The United States said that they would be happy to
schedule a meeting upon receipt of the long awaited Indian risk
assessment for review beforehand.

6. China continued to raise the issues of U.S. treatment of Chinese
cooked poultry and apples. The United States replied that they
continue to consult with the appropriate authorities regarding the
review of the Chinese application to export poultry to the United
States. On China's request for market access for their apples, the
United States explained that information regarding the pest risk
assessment had been requested from China, and that APHIS continues
to wait for the necessary technical data.

7. A small workgroup was formed to discuss private standards
consisting of the thirty members who responded to the Secretariat's
July questionnaire. The Chair suggested that the working group take
a flexible approach in undertaking its work and commence by
collecting specific examples where private SPS-related standards
have had an impact on a country's ability to export products. This
idea was supported by all the small group members through consensus.
The Secretariat plans to distribute a second questionnaire to all
Members of the Committee in February with responses due in June.
The small workgroup will report regularly to the Committee on its
progress and will determine additional steps as appropriate.

8. Argentina and the United States agreed to continue working to
draft a paper describing a procedure for Ad Hoc Consultations. The
United States stressed that the procedure should be flexible and not
legally binding. Argentina emphasized the need to make the
procedure formal enough to differentiate it from informal bilateral
consultations. India and the EC asked Argentina and the United
States if the procedure being developed would conflict with the NAMA
horizontal mechanism being negotiated as part of the Doha agreement.
The United States and Argentina stated their belief that the
mechanisms would not necessarily conflict. The Secretariat then
stated that the horizontal mechanism was still being negotiated and
the scope had not been fully agreed to by the members. The members
agreed to discuss the draft at the February meeting.

9. China raised concerns with the new draft standard by the North
American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) that would call for
Member countries (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) to adopt new measures to
protect against the Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM). China voiced its
concerns that the measures, mostly regarding inspection and
certification of ships and cargos, were burdensome and expensive.
Japan, Korea and Indonesia supported China's intervention. The
NAPPO members responded that the measures were based on science and
necessary to protect against the AGM, which is highly invasive,
destructive, and expensive to eradicate. The AGM is not indigenous
to North America. NAPPO countries invited China and other countries
to participate in an October NAPPO meeting and voice their

10. China informed the Committee regarding the recent melamine
contamination of its milk supply. China stated that the
contamination was accidental and that since September 10, 2008
increased testing and collaboration among its agencies, including
100 percent testing had been put in place in order to prevent future
contamination. China noted a mandatory recall had been instituted
for milk products distributed prior to September 10, 2008. China
urged countries to lift their import restrictions as soon as
possible based on the WHO risk assessment published on September 24,

11. Comment: In the meetings of April, June and October 2008,
Members exchanged views regarding the implementation of SPS
Agreement provisions regarding transparency, equivalence, and
regionalization. The United States views these exchanges as
positive developments as they demonstrate a growing familiarity with
the provisions of the SPS Agreement and increased recognition of the
value of the SPS Committee as a forum for the Members to discuss
SPS-related trade issues. Many Members, including the United
States, utilized these meetings to raise concerns regarding new and
existing SPS measures of other Members. In 2008, the United States
raised a number of concerns with measures imposed by other Members,
including India's avian influenza restrictions, Japan's maximum
residue limit enforcement policies, the European Union's (EU) ban on
the use of pathogen reduction treatments on imported poultry meat,
and Taiwan's ban on the use of the growth additive, Ractopamine, in
porcine. Further, the United States, with a view to being as
transparent as possible, informed the SPS Committee of various
measures, both new and proposed, such as the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration's proposed Food Protection Plan.


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