THE Philippine delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) defended Manila’s ban on pork imports from parts of Europe, citing the need to guard against pork from countries affected by African Swine Fever (ASF).

According to a statement forwarded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reporters, the Philippine WTO delegation said the import ban was based on ASF outbreaks duly reported to animal health authorities.

“Philippine officials review the scientific publications on ASF and monitor the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) reports. These technical resources serve as the basis of Philippine government to restrict meat importations,” the delegation said.

The European Union had questioned the ban as “scientifically unjustified.”

“These restrictions do not adhere to agreed international standards, nor do they apply the regionalization principles towards the EU. They also maintain scientifically unjustified country-wide bans on imports of meat products from EU member states on grounds of ASF outbreak,” the EU said in a statement.

The objections were raised during a meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures held on Nov. 7-8.

The Philippines bans the entry of pork and pork products from EU member states Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and Romania.

Specific to the ban on German and Czech pork, the EU asserted that Germany never reported an ASF outbreak, while the Czech Republic has been free from ASF for more than 18 months.

The Philippine delegation clarified that the ban was not due to ASF, but because “Germany did not comply with Philippine conditions for pork exports to the Philippines. Germany admitted they committed a mistake in sending a shipment of pork co-mingled with pork from ASF-infected Poland.”

“The Philippines does not belittle the interventions made by EU against ASF. But the veterinary authorities in the Philippines saw from the official reports from OIE and EU that the ASF disease continues to spread in Europe,” it said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang