KEEPING MARKETS OPEN: SUCCESSES IN REDUCING SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY BARRIERS TO AMERICAN EXPORTS
A new USTR report on key sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that American agricultural and food exporters face includes information about USTR's 2009 successes in breaking down these barriers around the world. Key progress in breaking down sanitary and phytosanitary barriers includes:
INCREASED MARKET ACCESS FOR U.S. BEEF AND BEEF PRODUCTS
European Union: In May 2009, the United States signed an MOU with the EU to resolve the long-term beef hormones trade dispute on a provisional basis. The MOU, which took effect in August 2009, provides additional duty-free access to the EU market for high-quality beef produced from cattle that have not been raised with growth-promoting hormones. Under the MOU, the United States may maintain the additional duties it had in place on EU products in March 2009, will not impose new duties on EU products during an initial three-year period, and will eliminate all sanctions during the fourth year. The MOU also calls for the two sides to refrain from further WTO litigation concerning the beef trade dispute for at least 18 months. Before the end of the four-year period, the United States and the EU will seek to conclude a longer-term agreement.
Nicaragua and Philippines: Numerous U.S. trading partners either ban U.S. beef entirely or impose restrictions that are inconsistent with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommendations due to concerns over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States. USTR has worked vigorously to regain market access for U.S. beef and beef products consistent with science, OIE guidelines, and the status of the United States as a controlled risk BSE country.
In February 2009, Nicaragua fully opened its market to imports of U.S. beef and beef products in line with OIE guidelines for countries that are considered to be "controlled risk" for BSE. Nicaragua had previously prohibited imports of U.S. deboned beef from cattle 30 months of age and older and bone-in beef from cattle of any age since 2003. Similarly, in October 2009, the Philippines formally allowed for the entry of U.S. meat and bone meal. The Philippines had banned these products since 2004.
REMOVAL OF BANS ON US PORK DUE TO H1N1 VIRUS CONCERNS
In response to the appearance of the H1N1 influenza virus, more than 30 countries banned the import of U.S. swine, pork, and pork products despite scientific evidence demonstrating that the disease was not transmitted by the consumption of these products. Countries that imposed bans included Bahrain, China, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, and Ukraine, among others. Cumulatively, the countries that placed H1N1 bans on U.S. pork during 2009 had accounted for more than $900 million worth of trade in pork and pork products in 2008.
USTR worked closely with other U.S. Government agencies to lift these bans, emphasizing to our trading partners that U.S. pork and live swine are safe and that related trade restrictions are inconsistent with the policy recommendations of international public health, food safety, and animal health bodies. Senior members of the Obama Administration urged these governments to ensure that their food safety measures were based on scientific evidence and consistent with their international obligations.
REMOVAL OF BANS ON US PORK DUE TO H1N1 VIRUS CONCERNS
Today, very few countries continue to block imports of U.S. swine, pork, and pork products based on concerns over H1N1 transmission. The United States continues to work bilaterally with these trading partners as well as through the WTO SPS Committee to lift the remaining H1N1 bans.
REMOVAL OF BANS ON U.S. POULTRY DUE TO THE AVIAN INFLUENZA VIRUS
Numerous countries have imposed AI-related import bans on U.S. poultry and poultry products despite U.S. actions to prevent the spread of AI and the non-existence of the most virulent strain of the disease in the United States. Many of the import bans appear to be inconsistent with science and the relevant OIE guidelines.
The United States has worked vigorously to remove these unwarranted restrictions on the export of U.S. poultry products. As a result of these efforts, 36 countries have removed their AI-related bans on U.S. poultry over the past two years.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING ON JAPAN'S MAXIMUM RESIDUE LIMITS (MRLs)
In recent years, Japan's policy on MRLs for pesticides has served as a barrier to U.S. horticulture products. MRLs, known as tolerances in the United States, represent the maximum concentration of residues permitted in or on food and animal feedstuffs after the application of approved pesticides. Japan's policy previously subjected all exports of a particular U.S. commodity to increased testing if even one shipment from a single U.S. exporter was found to exceed Japan's MRL. Japan's policy significantly increased the cost of exporting to Japan, and in some instances, limited market access for U.S. producers of fruits and vegetables.
In July 2009, USTR concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Japan to reduce the circumstances in which Japan is permitted to increase its testing requirements. In particular, the MOU states that Japan will not target all U.S. exports of a particular commodity for testing based on a single violation by an individual exporter.