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Weekly Overview: Challenges to Pig Trade

27 October 2014

GLOBAL - Two trade issues involving pigs have been discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) lately. A WTO panel has ruled that the amended Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) by the United States unfairly disadvantages pork imports from Canada. Meanwhile, Russia has been involved in several trade disputes since it joined the WTO, often related to food safety or animal health issues. With the ever-present threat of African swine fever, Denmark has joined Germany in raising biosecurity levels at its borders.

The WTO has found that amendments made by the United States to its COOL rules have made them more restrictive for countries such as Canada and Mexico rather than simplifying them.

In its latest ruling on the case brought by Mexico and Canada and backed by other meat exporters, the WTO has been backed by the meat industry in the US, who said that “USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meat packers and processors, it does not bring the US into compliance with its WTO obligations".

However, the US farmers said that there was strong consumer support for the USDA's COOL regulations.

The WTO ruling stated that the dispute concerns whether the measure taken by the United States in 2013 complies with the DSB recommendations and rulings in the original US–COOL dispute.

Canada and Mexico challenged the treatment given to imported Canadian cattle and hogs, and imported Mexican cattle, under the United States' amended COOL rules for beef and pork.

In the two years since joining the WTO in August 2012, Russia has become one of the most active members of the body dealing food safety and animal health issues – the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee.

Russia has given 52 regular and emergency updates of the disease situation in Russia and laid out technical assistance it has been giving to developing countries on SPS issues.

Russia had been the subject of five specific trade concerns so far and raised two of its own concerns.

In its exchanges, Russia has acknowledged that there is a political background to some of the issues but has now called for cooperation, rather than confrontation, and said political disagreements spoil the environment for finding a solution.

At a recent meeting, Russia and the EU gave updates on the latest situation over African swine fever in Eurasia and Europe.

While both parties described the measures they had taken to tackle the spread of the disease, which is found in wild boars and domestic pigs, they blamed each other for failing to deal properly with the risks.

Animal diseases can also pose a serious threat to trade and with its considerable and valuable trade in live pigs and pig meat, Denmark has every reason to take the dual threats of African swine fever and porcine epidemic diarrhoea seriously.

With African swine fever just 10 hours driving time away, the Danish pig industry is to intensify disease protection measures at its land border with Germany by building a state-of-the-art vehicle wash at Padborg.

According to the Danish agriculture organisation, Landbrug & Fødevarer (Agriculture & Food; L&F), 22,000 trucks cross the Danish border every year with piglets and pigs that are sold abroad.

These vehicles carry a risk of transmitting infectious diseases to Danish pig herds and so the Danish Pig Research Centre (PRC) has this week announced its decision to invest in a new truck wash at the border.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

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