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Key Sanitary And Phytosanitary Barriers To American Exports


On March 31, 2010, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk transmitted to Congress a new report on key sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that American agricultural and food producers face when they seek to sell their products around the world.  As President Obama seeks to grow as many as two million jobs here in the United States through increased exports, this report shows the Administration's commitment to keeping markets open to U.S. products.  Key topics in this new report include:


Several countries have imposed avian-influenza (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.  The United States is concerned with these restrictions and their impact on U.S. poultry trade.  Many of the import bans appear to be inconsistent with science and the relevant guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).  As a result of U.S. Government efforts, 36 countries have removed AI-related bans over the past two years.  The United States continues to raise concerns over the remaining AI-related import bans in numerous bilateral and multilateral fora with the trading partners concerned.


U.S. exports of biotech corn and soybeans, as well as other agricultural products that contain - or may contain - biotech-derived ingredients, continue to face a multitude of trade barriers.  For example, some U.S. trading partners have continued to employ restrictive measures or impose bans on certain biotech products even though repeated risk assessments have shown no health or environmental safety concerns and these biotech products have proven safety records.  The United States is actively engaged with trading partners in seeking to remove these unwarranted trade barriers, and more broadly, in efforts to share experiences related to biotechnology development, regulation, and trade.


Due to BSE-related concerns, nearly 30 countries impose import restrictions against U.S. live cattle, beef, and beef products that are inconsistent with OIE guidelines on the safe trade of these products.  These unwarranted trade barriers have caused substantial harm to the U.S. beef industry, which exports a significant proportion of its total production.  Restoring full access for U.S. beef and beef products consistent with science, the OIE guidelines, and the status of the United States as a controlled BSE risk country is a priority of the U.S. Government.  The United States is continuing efforts to negotiate bilateral protocols with trading partners to open their markets to U.S. beef and beef products.


In response to a global outbreak of H1N1 influenza virus in 2009, more than 30 countries prohibited imports of U.S. swine, pork, and pork products.  Such trade restrictions are inconsistent with the policy recommendations of international public health, food safety, and animal health bodies.  According to these recommendations, these bans are unjustified given the absence of scientific evidence indicating that the virus can be transmitted by the consumption of these products. Although most countries have lifted restrictions, some countries continue to block imports of U.S. swine, pork, and pork products.  The United States continues to work bilaterally with trading partners, as well as at the WTO, to lift remaining H1N1 bans.


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.  A number of countries' MRL policies have created problems for U.S. horticultural exporters, either because the country has established its MRLs without due regard to science, or by failing to set an MRL at all where there is an MRL already established by the United States or Codex, the international standard setting body for food safety.  The United States is working closely with trading partners to assist them in establishing their own science-based MRLs.  In 2009, the United States agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with Japan to help address Japan's MRL policy, which has been problematic for U.S. exporters.


A number of trading partners have implemented unreasonable standards for Salmonella and other pathogens on imported raw poultry products, restricting access for U.S. exporters.  The United States has an aggressive and effective program for controlling pathogens such as Salmonella in poultry products.  The United States continues to discuss this trade barrier with trading partners and has provided a significant amount of technical assistance to numerous countries.


Ractopamine is a veterinary drug used to promote lean meat growth in pigs, cattle, and turkeys.  This drug is approved for use in the United States and many other countries.  Despite the scientific evidence attesting to the safety of ractopamine, a number of important trading partners continue to ban imports of pork and pork products containing residues of ractopamine.  These unscientific measures pose a significant barrier to trade for U.S. pork products.  The United States continues to work both bilaterally and internationally to remove these restrictions.