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Brussels, 20 March 2003

Commissioner Byrne looks forward to busy programme in Latin America

On 20-28 March, Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, will be visiting Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. One important point on the agenda for all three countries will be the future EU/Mercosur Association Agreement. This will include provisions for sanitary and phytosanitary matters. Current trade issues, specifically in the area of food safety, will also be addressed in each of the three countries. Commissioner Byrne will also ascertain the support of the three countries for the accession of the EU to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).


First on the programme is Chile, where Commissioner Byrne will spend Thursday-Friday 20-21 March. Among others, he will meet with the Foreign Minister Mrs María Soledad Alvar, the Minister of Agriculture Mr. Jaime Campos Quiroga, the Minister for Health Mr. Pedro Garcia and the Under-Secretary for Fisheries Mr Felipe Sandoval. Chile has a very good track record in the fields of animal and public health and is already authorised to export fresh meat of almost all animal species to the EU. During his visit Commissioner Byrne will discuss an imminent proposal by the Commission to provisionally approve the Chilean residue plan for cattle, which is the final step required for Chile to also be able to export fresh beef and live animals to the EU.


Commissioner Byrne will arrive in Uruguay on Sunday afternoon. On the morning of Monday 24 March, he will not only meet with the President of Uruguay, Dr Jorge Batlle Ibañez, but will also take the opportunity to inaugurate the new office of the Commission Delegation while visiting this country. The afternoon programme includes meetings with the Minister of Public Health Dr Conrado Bonilla, the Minister of Agriculture Ing. Gonzalo Gonzalez and the Director of the Mercosur Secretariat Mr Reginaldo Braga Arcuri. The EU and Uruguay are co-operating well on all food safety issues and at present there are no major problems with any sanitary or phytosanitary issues. The Commission will however highlight the state of play of the Mercosur negotiations.


On Tuesday 25 March, Commissioner Byrne will reach his final Latin American destination, Brazil. Here he will meet with the Minister of State of External Relations Ambassador Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, the Minister of State for Agriculture Mr Roberto Rodrigues, and the President of the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock.

He will also attend a round table with Brazilian agribusiness leaders on food safety and agricultural trade. Wednesday 26 March will see meetings with the Minister of State for Health Mr Humberto Sérgio Costa Lima and the President of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation as well as a visit to the Research Center of Genetic Resources and Biotechnology and a working lunch on livestock and food supply with the Agriculture Minister. On Thursday 27 March, Commissioner Byrne will travel to visit a model breeding farm and the Foundation for Research in Citrus Plant Protection and on Friday 28 March he will visit the Research Centre of Food Technology and Food Engineering. The EU has a good relationship with Brazil on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, including co-operation on dealing with FMD. Two current issues of concern, however, are the discovery of nitrofurans in Brazilian poultry meat and aflatoxins in Brazil nuts. Both of these issues are likely to be discussed during Commissioner Byrne's visit.

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