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Brussels, 15 December 1998

Agriculture Council adopts EU / Canada Veterinary agreement.

The Ministers of Agriculture adopted a proposal from the European Commission to conclude a veterinary agreement between the European Union (EU) and Canada for live animals and animal products. The objective of the agreement is to facilitate trade in live animals and animal products between the EU and Canada by establishing a mechanism for the recognition of equivalence of sanitary measures operating in the two regions. The recognition by an importing country of the sanitary measures applied by an exporting country can permit greater efficiency in the utilisation of inspection and verification resources. This agreement includes application of the principle of regionalisation for the main animal diseases and lists those commodities for which equivalence is recognised. For those commodities where equivalence is not yet recognised, it sets out a programme of work towards recognition and the trade conditions applicable in the interim. The total trade between the EU and Canada in the products covered by the Agreement for 1997 was about ECU 550 million. This figure conceals significant differences in the importance to each party of certain commodities. It should be stressed that nothing in this Agreement changes EU legislation. Similar agreements have been negotiated with New Zealand, the United States and the Czech Republic.

Commenting on the agreement Mr Fischler, Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that it is the result of long and difficult negotiations and while facilitating trade, will at the same time ensure the protection of public and animal health within both the EU and Canada.

Under the Agreement, Canada recognises regionalisation of the EU i.e. that an outbreak of disease in a defined and restricted region need not result in a ban on trade from the whole of the affected Member State and even from other Member States not directly affected but which trade with the affected State. Canadian acceptance of EU disease control policy will thus have a significantly beneficial effect in terms of trade.

The proposal takes account of the principle of subsidiarity by explicit reference in the agreement to those responsibilities which fall to the Member States and those which are EU responsibilities. It also takes account of the rights and obligations of both parties under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and of the necessity to ensure a high level of protection of animal and public health in the EU.

In terms of trade, the principal Canadian exports covered by the agreement are fish and fishery products (ECU 230 million), milk products (ECU 27 million) and fresh meat (ECU 26 million). Other significant Canadian exports include rendered fats, hides and skins, petfood, live horses and breeding cattle and bovine semen.

For the EU, the principal exports covered are dairy products (ECU 48 million), fish and fishery products (ECU 16 million), and fresh meat (ECU 15 million). Other significant EU exports include live horses and meat products.

In the case of fresh meat, while the Canadian exports are mainly horsemeat (ECU 23 million out of ECU 26 million), EU exports to Canada are almost all pigmeat (ECU 13.8 million out of ECU15 million).

In February 1995, the Council agreed a mandate authorising the Commission to conduct negotiations with a view to the conclusion of agreements between the EU and third countries on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Following this mandate, the Commission has conducted negotiations with a number of third countries. Agreements have been concluded with New Zealand and the Czech Republic. An agreement with the United States, endorsed by the Council in March 1998, should be concluded in 1999, and negotiations are continuing with Australia, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.

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