The government of the Philippines has recently imposed a temporary ban over imports of Brazilian poultry meat based on an alleged risk of contamination of its consumers with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The government of Brazil urges the government of the Philippines to immediately remove the temporary ban.
All recommendations issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Codex Alimentarius indicate that food and food packaging are not transmission vehicles for COVID-19. There is, indeed, a consensus in the international scientific community, shared by risk assessment agencies and sanitary authorities around the world, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot be transmitted through food trade.
In this context, the Philippine government is the only one in the world currently imposing any restriction on Brazilian poultry based on the alleged risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and it has not presented any scientific evidence to justify this decision.
Brazil has always worked constructively, openly and transparently with its trade partners and friendly nations, especially during this delicate moment of a global pandemics. Accordingly, Brazilian authorities have acted fast, answering all the questions raised by Philippine authorities and providing detailed documentation, including regulations, guidelines and protocols followed by Brazilian companies in the food sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply of Brazil has adopted preventive measures to ensure a high level of epidemiological and sanitary safety in meat processing establishments, as well as ensuring the continuous supply of healthy food to society. Even in the face of the pandemic, all sanitary inspections in production establishments are in place at full force, in order to provide the proper guarantees regarding public health, workers’ health and food safety.
The Philippine government’s current imposition of a temporary ban over imports of Brazilian poultry meat did not follow the necessary and mandatory principles and steps foreseen on Article 5 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), and, therefore, is in clear violation of Article 5 of the WTO SPS Agreement.
The Brazilian government is working bilaterally towards a rapid and constructive solution for the case. Nevertheless, it is necessary to publicly reaffirm that: there is no scientific evidence supporting the allegation of risk of contamination of human beings by the SARS-CoV-2 virus through food of any kind; that the government of the Philippines has not provided evidence to justify its decision to impose restrictions on the imports of poultry meat; and that the mandatory steps foreseen on Article 5 of the SPS Agreement were disregarded in the case. Therefore, Brazil will take the appropriate measures at the World Trade Organization, if the Philippine administration fails to lift the abovementioned ban on imports of poultry meat or does not promptly present scientific, trustworthy evidence to justify maintaining this restriction.
Brazil remains strongly committed to provide sustainable and safe food products of the highest quality to its citizens and to its trade partners, and to comply with best practices, in line with the international scientific community recommendations.
On the spirit of partnership, and with a view to maintaining a stable and safe trade in food products, Brazil calls upon the Philippines to immediately lift the ban.