Fabian Demicoli

Philippines re-open market to beef from Spain following ban

 In October 2010, the Philippines lifted its ban on imports of beef and beef products from Spain. This followed earlier decisions to lift the bans on imports from a number of other EU Member States. In 2000, the Philippines introduced an import ban on beef of European origin, citing a risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) without providing any scientific justification for the measure.

This measure went beyond the international standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and did not take into account the stringent control and surveillance measures in place in the European Union. At the same time, no ban was imposed on certain non-EU countries with a similar BSE risk status to the EU.

Since the introduction of the ban, the European Commission, the EU Delegation and EU Member States regularly raised the issue with the Philippines in all available fora and in every bilateral meeting, at technical and political level. On these occasions, the European Commission requested the Philippines to lift the ban for all affected EU Member States. As a result, the Philippines revised its import conditions in several stages and re-opened its market to several EU Member States. With the recent lifting of the BSE ban on Spain, Portugal remains the only Member State subject to the ban. But even once the ban is lifted, countries still have to undergo a country by country procedure for accreditation of Foreign Meat Establishments, which is considered lengthy and non-transparent.

In the year 2000, before the introduction of the ban, exports of European beef to the Philippines exceeded 19,000 tonnes and were valued at over 24 million Euros.

This development should allow Spanish exporters to gain access to the Philippine market again. The European Commission will also continue to raise the issue with the Philippines in order to re-open the market for imports from Portugal and to ensure that international standards are followed. EU business is invited to inform the Commission of any new developments in this matter.

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