DA unfazed by trade complaint threat

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) seems to be unfazed by the intention of Brazil to file a trade complaint against the Philippines at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in relation to the import ban on Brazilian poultry.

    “We have not yet lifted the ban on poultry, especially whole chicken, as the Brazilian government has yet to furnish the Philippines a report on the rates of SARS-COV-2 infection in their respective foreign meat establishments (FMEs), where our imports are sourced,” said DA Secretary William Dar.

    Dar said the report forms part of the protocols of good manufacturing practices and the requirements of the DA for a more in-depth risk analysis of the situation.

    “Although we have maintained an open communication line with our Brazilian counterparts, the Department of Agriculture welcomes the initiative of Brazil to elevate the matter to the WTO,” Dar said.

    Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) director Ronnie Domingo said it is within the scope of an importing country to pre-emptively ban FMEs with apparent biosafety lapses until such time that the Philippines is satisfied with the evidence of compliance or commitment by the concerned facility.

    Domingo said since Brazil only provided partial documents, the DA has responded by allowing only the entry of mechanically-deboned poultry meat or MDM from the said country.

    Meanwhile, agricultural lobby group, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) has pressed the DA to adhere to the provisions of the Food Safety Act which mandates it to set up first border inspection facilities for incoming imports.

    SINAG chairperson Rosendo So threatened to file charges against the DA for not performing its mandate.

    So said the Office of the President last December allocated P2 billion for the construction of such facilities but not a single one has been established.

    He blamed this inaction by the DA contributed in the spread of the African swine fever.