Countries barring Mexican pork to face WTO scrutiny

May 6th, 2009 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, May 6 (EFE) Mexico has submitted a request to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) asking eight countries to explain why they were restricting access of Mexican pork products to their markets in response to the swine flu outbreak here.
“We won’t allow them to impose unjustified measures on Mexican exports and we will defend the place that the quality of our products deserves in markets around the world,” Economy Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Mateos said at a press conference.

Though commonly termed as swine flu, the new AH1N1 virus blamed for the Mexican outbreak is not spread through consumption of pork products, according to the World Health Organisation.

Mexico’s WTO complaint targets Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, China, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Azerbaijan.

The secretary said that his country presented Monday a communique to the 153 members of the WTO’s committee on health measures “questioning the compatibility of the measures adopted by certain countries with the rules of that organisation”.

“This communique is to formally request that the corresponding countries provide an explanation for the restrictions adopted, including scientific backup,” Ruiz Mateos said.

“Everything indicates that there is no justification for restricting pork,” he said, adding that losses in the sector have not yet been quantified.

He did, however, acknowledge that his country does “very little trade” with the eight countries blocking imports of Mexican pork, no more than two percent of the total.

More than halting large-scale damage, what Mexico wishes to achieve with its action is “to keep other countries from taking similar measures”.

Among the leading destinations for exports of Mexican pork he mentioned the US, Canada and Japan, three countries with which Mexico has free-trade agreements.

Ruiz also acknowledged that another desired effect of the complaint to the WTO was to promote the good qualities of pork in Mexico, where consumption of this product has dropped significantly since the outbreak of the AH1N1 virus.

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