Letter from Jeff Rooker, Minister of State for Food
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SWiP 3JR
Patrick Nicholls Esq MP
House of Commons
30 June 1999
Thank you for your letter of 14 May enclosing one from Mr Delaney of The Mill House, Mortimers Cross, Leominster about Bombay Duck.
There is little that I can add to my letter of 31 March other than to comment on Mr Delaney's belief that the Government has ignored a transgression of World Trade Organisation rules. The Uruguay Round of multilateral trade talks introduced new rules governing trade restrictions used to protect human, animal and plant health, in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. Measures must be applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health; must be based on sound scientific principles; and must not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discrinimate against particular trading partners.
I have no reason to believe that the EU hygiene requirements for fishery products from third countries, which are intended to protect public health, breach the SPS Agreement. The. Agreement is still fairly new, but so far in its operation the Government is satisfied that protective measures have been justified by the public health risk. However, I would emphasise that, in the particular case in question, there is no ban on the import of Bombay Duck.
Finally, I should note that the UK is a member of the WTO in its own right and membership of the EU does not forfeit our right to appeal to the WTO. However, as a Member State of the EU we would initially tend to raise any concerns about barriers to trade with the European Commission which generally represents all Member States in discussions in the WTO.
JEFF ROOKER MP
Minister of State