November 7, 2003



Brazil & Thailand Trigger Investigation into Malpractice in EU's Chicken Policies

Today, Brazil and Thailand will be triggering an investigation into malpractice in the EU's trade policies on frozen chicken at the World Trade Organisation.


A formal panel is likely to be set up after Brasilia and Bangkok lodged a second request for the WTO to look into the EU's customs coding system for salted chicken cuts.


Formerly, Brussels classed the chicken cuts as 'salted meat' applying a duty rate of 15.4%, but after reclassification the same meat is now subject to higher duties costing exporters a sizeable increase to EU €102 for 100kg of chicken.


The new classification constitutes an obstacle to Thai exports to the EC, said one Thai trade official. He added that it would be in violation of the EC commitments made under the Uruguay round of WTO talks.


Thailand has taken over six months to call for a panel aware that the dispute "involves political considerations", particularly since the European Commission introduced control measures against Thai chicken in March 2002 after traces of antibiotics were found in poultry imports.


Brussels is planning action of its own, expecting to see a panel set up to look into Canberra's stringent quarantine measures it claims "block unjustifiably the import of a number of agricultural products" into Australia.


Canberra has strict restrictions in place to ensure that many diseases transmitted by foodstuffs and prevalent in Europe are stopped before they reach Australia's shores.


In reality, this effectively excludes agricultural produce from making it on to the Australian market.


The quarantine dispute has an added dimension after EU trade chief Pascal Lamy incited Australia, which traditionally bangs the free-trade drum, "to live up to its own rhetoric on open trade" after the two clashed over trade liberalisation in Cancun.


In both disputes, the WTO panels will have six months to publish their findings.

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