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Cablegate: Croatia Reacts to U.S. Case of Bse, Bans Imports

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ZAGREB 002687

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EB/TPP/ATP BYODER
USDA FAS FOR DLP HWETZEL AND KWAINIO
VIENNA FOR FAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ECON HR
SUBJECT: CROATIA REACTS TO U.S. CASE OF BSE, BANS IMPORTS

REF: STATE 348293

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) ON DECEMBER 24, CROATIA BANNED THE IMPORT OF U.S.
BEEF IN RESPONSE TO NEWS REPORTS OF THE FIRST CASE OF BSE IN
THE U.S. ON DECEMBER 29, EMBASSY PRESENTED REFTEL
NOTIFICATION OF THE BSE CASE IN U.S. TO ASSISTANT MINISTER OF
AGRICULTURE MIROSLAV BOZIC ON DECEMBER 29. WHILE CROATIA
DOES NOT IMPORT BEEF FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION FROM THE U.S.,
SOME PET FOOD IMPORTS WILL PROBABLY BE AFFECTED. END SUMMARY.

NOTIFICATION DELIVERED
----------------------

2. (SBU) WE DELIVERED REFTEL NOTIFICATION OF THE BSE CASE IN
WASHINGTON STATE TO ASSISTANT MINISTER BOZIC ON DECEMBER 29,
AND PASSED A COPY TO THE MFA AS WELL. BOZIC WAS AWARE OF THE
CASE, BUT THANKED US FOR OUR PROMPT OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION.
WE DISCUSSED THE DECREE ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY ON DECEMBER 24
WHICH ADDED THE U.S. TO THE LIST OF COUNTRIES FROM WHICH BEEF
CANNOT BE IMPORTED. BOZIC EMPHASIZED THAT THE BAN WAS
TEMPORARY, THOUGH HE ADMITTED THAT NO COUNTRY HAD BEEN TAKEN
OFF THE LIST SINCE IT WAS ESTABLISHED. HE THOUGHT THAT MIGHT
CHANGE IN THE FUTURE, PERHAPS AS EARLY AS IN THE FIRST HALF
OF 2004, BECAUSE OF PRESSURE FROM THE EU. BOZIC DID NOT
THINK THE BAN WOULD AFFECT PET FOOD IMPORTS, WHICH HE
UNDERSTOOD TO BE SOURCED FROM EU-ACCEPTED SOURCES, AND ASKED
TO BE ADVISED IF THERE WERE ANY PROBLEMS.

3. (U) BOZIC NOTED THAT CROATIA STILL DOES NOT HAVE A SINGLE
REPORTED CASE OF BSE. ALL COWS OVER 24 MONTHS OF AGE ARE
EXAMINED UPON SLAUGHTER, AS WELL AS ANY COWS OF ANY AGE THAT
EXHIBIT SUSPICIOUS SYMPTOMS.

CROATIA BANS U.S. BEEF
----------------------

4. (U) IN A DECREE ISSUED DECEMBER 24 (WHICH WILL TAKE
EFFECT WHEN PUBLISHED, PROBABLY ON DECEMBER 30), CROATIA
ADDED THE UNITED STATES TO A LIST OF COUNTRIES FROM WHICH
BEEF PRODUCT IMPORTS ARE BANNED. THE LIST NOW NUMBERS 24,
AND INCLUDES CANADA AND ALL EU MEMBERS EXCEPT FOR SWEDEN.
BEEF, BOVINE EGG CELLS, BEEF BY-PRODUCTS, AND MEAL FROM BEEF
PRODUCTS FROM THESE COUNTRIES ARE BANNED. THE DECREE
SPECIFICALLY EXEMPTS MILK, BOVINE SPERM AND EMBRYOS, GELATIN
AND COLLAGEN (EXCEPT FROM PORTUGAL, IRELAND AND GREAT
BRITAIN), AND BOVINE MATERIALS FOR PURELY INDUSTRIAL USE.
THE DECREE ALSO EXEMPTS FOOD FOR CATS AND DOGS, AS LONG AS IT
IS NOT FROM RUMINANTS, AND ANY RUMINANT-BASED RAW MATERIALS
COME FROM A COUNTRY WHICH HAS NOT HAD ANY REGISTERED CASES OF
BSE.

EFFECTS ON US TRADE
-------------------

5. (SBU) THE U.S. DOES NOT CURRENTLY EXPORT BEEF TO
CROATIA, ALTHOUGH IT THEORETICALLY COULD (BEFORE THE DECREE)
FROM ANY PLANT CERTIFIED TO EXPORT TO THE EU. THE U.S. DID
EXPORT APPROXIMATELY $518,000 WORTH OF PET FOOD TO CROATIA IN
2002, AND U.S. BRANDS PRODUCED IN EUROPE AND EXPORTED TO
CROATIA PROBABLY DO CONTAIN MANY U.S. INPUTS. WE CONTACTED
MASTER FOODS, PROBABLY THE BIGGEST IMPORTER OF U.S. BRAND PET
FOOD INTO CROATIA. JASMINKA ILICIC, HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL
RELATIONS, TOLD US THAT SHE EXPECTS THE BAN TO AFFECT THEIR
IMPORTS IN THE MEDIUM-TERM. FOR NOW, THE COMPANY HAS
REQUESTED A WAIVER FROM THE GOC FOR PET FOOD PRODUCED BEFORE
THE DATE OF THE BAN. IT ASKED FOR AND RECEIVED A SIMILAR
WAIVER WHEN CROATIA BANNED BEEF PRODUCT IMPORTS FROM CANADA.

PRESS COVERAGE
--------------

6. (U) CROATIAN MEDIA GAVE ONLY MODERATE COVERAGE TO THE BSE
CASE IN THE U.S. ONE PAPER CITED THE NEW YORK TIMES
INTERVIEW WITH NOBEL PRIZE WINNER DR. STANLY PRUSINER, IN
WHICH HE CRITIZED THE USG FOR NOT HAVE DONE MORE INTENSIVE
TESTING. ANOTHER JOURNALIST SPECULATED THAT WHEN CONSUMPTION
OF BEEF FELL IN THE U.S., THERE WOULD BE PRESSURE ON THE PART
OF U.S. FARMERS TO OBTAIN EXPORT SUBSIDIES AND TO DUMP CHEAP
BEEF ON THE WORLD MARKETS, HARMING CROATIA

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