Brazil mulls WTO filing vs Philippines ban on poultry
In a letter sent by the Brazil embassy to the Department of Foreign Affairs, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, the Latin American country questioned why the Philippines has not lifted the ban even if Brazil has already provided the necessary documents to the Department of Agriculture.
STAR/File
Brazil mulls WTO filing vs Philippines ban on poultry
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Brazil is seriously considering elevating its trade concerns to the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the Philippines fails to immediately lift the ban on its poultry products.

In a letter sent by the Brazil embassy to the Department of Foreign Affairs, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR, the Latin American country questioned why the Philippines has not lifted the ban even if Brazil has already provided the necessary documents to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Brazil is confident that the clarifications already provided to the Philippine authorities, from a technical point of view, are more than sufficient to support the immediate and complete revocation of the barrier imposed against imports of chicken meat from Brazil,” the letter said.

“Since such an unjustified and undue barrier has not been lifted so far, Brazil is determined to resort to the appropriate multilateral fora, including the filing of specific trade concerns to the detriment of the Philippines at the WTO anchored by the guidelines recommended by that organization,” the Brazil embassy said.

The Philippines banned poultry imports from Brazil after a sample of chicken wings shipped to China tested positive for Covid-19.

Last month, the DA just partially lifted the ban, allowing only mechanically deboned meat to enter the Philippines, a move that surprised Brazil.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), there are no technical and scientific justifications for the differential treatment of MDM poultry imports in relation to other types of poultry meat or other meat.

“Considering the absence of scientific basis for such a measure, it is the understanding of Brazil that the ban on the import of Brazilian chicken meat goes against the precepts contained in the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures,” Brazil said.

“Brazil has always conducted its sanitary and phytosanitary dialogue with our trade partners in a frank, transparent, and constructive manner, supported by scientific evidence,” it said.

The DA, has received the communication from the Embassy, which it said was simply part of the diplomatic protocol.

“We will clarify with our Brazilian counterparts the documents that the Philippines requested. Every country has the freedom to ask for information that will be helpful in making evidence-based decisions,” Bureau of Animal Industry director Ronnie Domingo told The STAR.

Brazil, however, reiterated it had promptly forwarded the required information and clarifications and adopted preventive measures to ensure the high level of sanitary safety in refrigeration plants.

“MAPA has not identified any possible technical reasons to sustain adjustments to the official health certification procedures for poultry meat and its products in view of the very same alleged motivation that led to the temporary ban imposed by the DA. This is the reason why the health certification of poultry meat and its products to be exported to the Philippine market remains suspended,” it said.

Today, the Philippines is the only country to impose a ban on Brazilian products with the coronavirus disease as justification.

The Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) said the international health certificate is a very important and vital document that is used and recognized in global meat trade and should not to be trifled with.

MITA president Jess Cham told The STAR that as the letter is addressed to DFA, not to DA, it was clear that Brazil was serious about elevating the matter to the WTO.

“Unfortunately, it reflects badly on the Philippines as we will be seen as not having a good grasp and understanding of the inviolability and integrity of the health certificate even though we are a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture,” Cham said.

“I hope it does not blow up into a trade war between the two countries. Brazil is also a major supplier of beef and pork on a smaller scale. If beef supply is curtailed, then the Philippines will have to buy higher priced beef elsewhere. Bad for everybody,” he said.

Cham said the best and correct thing for DA to do is to fully lift the ban.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) echoed the same sentiment.

“Considering that we are only one to 1.5 percent of their meat export market versus our 20 percent dependence on them for all our meat imports, the odds do not support the Philippines’ attitude,” Pampi spokesperson Rex Agarrado said.

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