DS: Australia — Quarantine Regime for Imports

This summary has been prepared by the Secretariat under its own responsibility. The summary is for general information only and is not intended to affect the rights and obligations of Members.


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Summary of the dispute to date

The summary below was up-to-date at


Complaint by the European Communities.

On 3 April 2003, the EC requested consultations with Australia regarding the Australian quarantine regime for imports, both as such and as applied to certain specific cases. According to the EC, the Australian quarantine regime for imports appears to be governed both by legislation as well as by the exercise of discretion granted to a Director of Quarantine and by administrative guidance issued on the exercise of that discretion.

As regards the quarantine regime as such, the EC claims that the effect of this regime appears to be that the import of products is a priori prohibited, although there is no risk assessment. Risk assessments appear to be commenced, if at all, only once the import of a product has been specifically requested. In some cases, no risk assessment has been commenced despite such request. In other cases it has been commenced but not completed. As regards specific cases, the EC claims that:

  • Australia permits the import of deboned pigmeat from Denmark for processing in Australia but refuses the import of processed deboned pigmeat from Denmark. It also claims that the processing requirements imposed in Australia may be more trade-restrictive than necessary in the circumstances to protect Australia from PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome). It also appears that requests have been made for access to Australia for processed pigmeat or deboned pigmeat for processing from other EU Member States which have been refused.
  • Australia permits the import of poultry meat which has been cooked to high temperature and for long periods to prevent the entry of IBD (infectious bursal disease). The EC claims that it appears that IBD may already be present in the Australian poultry flock and that no efforts are being made to eradicate it. The EC also claims that the processing requirements imposed in Australia may be more trade-restrictive than necessary in the circumstances to protect Australia from IBD.

The EC considers that the measures referred to above may be contrary to the SPS Agreement, and in particular, although not limited to, Articles 2.2, 2.3, 3.3, 4.1, 5.1, 5.6 and, if applicable, 5.7, 8 and Annex C. On 16 April 2003, Chile and the Philippines requested to join the consultations. On 22 April 2003, India and Canada requested to join the consultations. Australia informed the DSB that it had accepted the requests of Canada, Chile, India and the Philippines to join the consultations.

On 29 August 2003, the European Communities requested the establishment of a panel. At its meeting on 2 October 2003, the DSB deferred the establishment of a panel.


Panel and Appellate Body proceedings

On 14 October 2003, the EC submitted a revised request for the establishment of a panel to the DSB. The DSB established a panel at its meeting on 7 November 2003. Canada, Chile, China, India, Philippines, Thailand and the United States reserved their third-party rights.


Mutually agreed solution

On 9 March 2007, Australia and the European Communities notified the DSB that they had reached a mutually agreed solution under Article 3.6 of the DSU. The parties have agreed to a solution to address the issues identified by the European Communities, whilst respecting the appropriate level of protection of Australia and consistent with Australia's SPS legislation and import policy development process. This solution includes enhances transparency of the quarantine regime of Australia, principles of treatment for market access applications from the European Communities, and continued expert discussions on scientific aspects associated with trade in pig meat and chicken meat.


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