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Cablegate: Nicaragua Restores Market Access to U.S. Cattle,

VZCZCXYZ0526
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1499 3511949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161949Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3530
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001499

SIPDIS

PASS TO USDA/APHIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETTC EAGR NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA RESTORES MARKET ACCESS TO U.S. CATTLE,
BUT NOT TO BEEF

1. (U) On December 9, 2008, representatives of Nicaragua's
Ministry of Agriculture (MAGFOR) informed post's USDA rep
that Nicaragua had overturned its 2004 ban on the importation
of U.S. live cattle, sheep and goats, consistent with the
2007 recommendation of the World Organization for Animal
Health (OIE). According to the Ministerial Agreement
received by USDA, Nicaragua now permits the importation of
live cattle, sheep and goats from countries, including the
U.S., that meet OIE conditions in regard to controlling the
risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known
as "mad cow" disease. The Ministerial Agreement, however,
only permits the importation of live cattle, sheep and goats
from qualified countries. It does not specify nor permit the
importation of beef and beef products, even though OIE
standards regarding BSE are the same for beef and beef
products as for live animals.

2. (U) In 2007, more than three years after the first case
of BSE in the U.S. prompted Central American countries to
halt the importation of U.S. cattle and beef, the OIE
unanimously adopted a recommendation that the United States
be recognized as having "controlled" risk status for BSE.
The OIE controlled risk classification provided an objective
international recognition that the control measures in place
in the U.S. effectively manage any BSE risk.

3. (U) The Ministerial Agreement, which is dated September
2008, was delivered to USDA rep at post on December 9.
Post's USDA rep contacted MAGFOR's Chief of Animal Health
Mauricio Pichardo to further inquire about the Agreement.
Pichardo verified that the Agreement referred only to cattle,
sheep and goats and not to beef, and he promised to consult
the Ministry's legal office to determine the reason why
Nicaragua continues to ban the importation of U.S. beef and
beef products.

4. (U) Comment: It is possible that MAGFOR'S omission of
beef is unintentional. Post is hopeful that the Nicaraguan
market will be fully opened to beef and beef products within
a short period of time. USDA has been working for more than
18 months to persuade Nicaragua to open its market to U.S.
cattle and beef. The December 2003 discovery of BSE in the
U.S. prompted all Central American countries to take steps to
close their markets to these products. In May of 2007, the
OIE's recommendation that the U.S. be classified as
"controlled risk" for BSE provided strong support that U.S.
regulatory controls were effective and U.S. cattle and cattle
products could be safely traded internationally. Since the
OIE announcement, Nicaragua had been the only Central
American country to resist opening its market to U.S. cattle
and beef.
CALLAHAN

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