Department of Trade & Industry
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H OET
11 November 1998
Dear Mr Mandelson
BOMBAY DUCK AND THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION
On BBC radio 4 recently I heard Mr Jeff Rooker assert that "the Government was extremely concerned about niche food producers". My particular concern is the effective European Commission ban on the importation of Bombay Duck from India.
This is by definition a niche trade. Very small quantities were imported from India before the EC imposed an effective ban. The Agriculture Commissioner informs me that there is no adverse health status information relating to Bombay Duck. Our own Public Health Laboratory Service has confirmed that there is neither evidence of food poisoning nor bacteriological contamination of Bombay duck.
As you may know the EC ban is effective against all fisheries imports from India except those arising from approved fish processing establishments. Bombay Duck is not of course produced in a processing establishment. The product is dried on the beach by peasant fisherman.
The EC claims there is no ban but this assertion is completely contradicted by the statement from the Indian Marine Exports Development Authority that imports of dried fishes are yet to be permitted by the European Union.
The World Trade Organisation Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures is quite clear that a country cannot arbitrarily ban a food product on health grounds without the analysis and assessment of objective and accurate scientific data. This has not been done.
The purpose of this letter is to ask you to take the necessary steps to appeal to the WT0 on behalf of our government against the European Commission that is in direct contravention of WTO rules. I'm sure that if you take this action then a much loved, and dare I say it, detested, delicacy will be fully restored to our Curry houses!
My Save Bombay Duck web site that contains all the information you need to proceed with our case.