ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has refused to lift the ban on import of live cattle from Canada because Toronto is still with the risks of infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) commonly known as mad cow disease. It has been officially conveyed to Canada on Tuesday by top guns at Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce.
“Canada is still on Controlled BSE Risk and not on negligible BSE Risk country lists, therefore, the ban on import of live cattle from Canada cannot be lifted,” top official sources confirmed to The News here on Tuesday.
Federal Minister for Commerce Pervez Malik held a meeting with Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan Perry John Calderwood here.
In order to protect and safeguard domestic cattle stocks as exports as well as the exports of meat and other bovine products, the Ministry of Commerce imposed a ban in 2001 on the import of live animals, meat, and bovine meal, tallow, and feed ingredients (of animal origin) from all countries infected with BSE commonly known as mad cow disease.
The list included UK, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Finland, Canada and USA. The disease is difficult to be detected in live animals, as no test is currently available in Pakistan.
The World Animal Health Organisation - Office of International des Epizooties (OIE) is a Paris based inter-governmental organisation with 152 countries, including Pakistan, as its members. The OIE has currently classified countries as Negligible BSE risk, Controlled BSE risk and undetermined BSE risk countries. OIE updates the risk status on a regular basis. The last ranking has been done by OIE in May 2013.
Currently, Pakistan is importing most of its dairy cattle from Australia. However, other countries like USA, Canada as well as the European Union (EU) were consistently agitating that Pakistan should review its existing import policy pertaining to live animals and animal products, in light of the revised rankings done by OIE. Therefore, the matter was examined in conjunction with the Ministry of National Food Security & Research.
It was felt that allowing the import of live animals from negligible risk countries will benefit Pakistan livestock industry as Pakistani importers/dairy industry will be able to source their animals from multiple countries and breeds. This would also bring our import regime in congruence with the OIE guidelines.
In this backdrop, a meeting was held in the Ministry of Commerce to discuss the issue of lifting ban on import of live animals from BSE infected countries. The meeting was attended by representatives of Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R) and the provincial governments. After detailed deliberations, the following course of action was agreed upon:
Ban on import of feeds containing meat, bone meal and greaves etc. derived from BSE infected ruminants (i.e. cattle/goat etc.) shall continue and strictly followed.
The ban on import of live animals from BSE infected countries shall continue in general, however, imports from countries which have been declared as “Negligible Risk” by OIE shall be allowed subject to the following conditions:
“Animals from only such herds shall be allowed for import where no incidence of BSE has been reported for last 11 years and this fact shall be certified by the concerned Veterinary Authority of the exporting country.”
Efforts shall be made by MNFS&R to conduct a BSE risk assessment in Pakistan and apply to OIE for categorisation of Pakistan as a “BSE Negligible Risk Country”.
Ministry of Commerce submitted a summary for the ECC of the Cabinet for seeking approval of the above proposals, which was approved by the ECC in its meeting held on 18-07-2014. Ministry of Commerce issued an SRO to this effect as well.
However, according to official press release issued by Ministry of Commerce, the Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Mohammad Pervaiz Malik welcomed the Canadian High Commissioner and also thanked him for the letter of facilitation and invitation to visit Canada, extended by Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Commerce Minister. He also shared his intention to visit Canada probably in first week of November this year to discuss ways and means to bolster the already cordial trade relations between the two countries.
Mohammad Pervaiz Malik highlighted that trade between Pakistan and Canada stood at US $0.91 billion during the FY 2016-17 and said that there is tremendous potential between the two countries to increase the bilateral trade by many fold.
Pakistan’s major exports to the Canada include rice, made up articles of textiles material, articles of apparel and major imports from Canada are grain oil seeds and pulses, vegetable preparations machinery and its parts, pharmaceutical products, oil-seed & chemicals.
The commerce minister informed the Canadian high commissioner that the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) agreed to adopt mutually agreed scientific solution to the problem of fumigation of Canadian exports to Pakistan to ensure food safety standards and said that with the support of CFIA the DPP has completed technical and legal evaluation of the information provided by CFIA and now await invitation from CFIA to DPP experts for on-the-spot inspection of integrated measures employed in Canada to ascertain export of quarantine free cargo to Pakistan.
Canadian High Commissioner Perry John Calderwood congratulated Mohammad Pervaiz Malik on becoming the Commerce Minister and said that there had been a substantial improvement in the security situation in Pakistan and Pakistan was also taking major steps for ease of doing business which made the Pakistani market very lucrative for Canadian businesses and investors.
He informed the commerce minister that Canada had already made significant investment in Solar Energy Projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Canadian High Commissioner said that there has been a solid foundation of Pakistan and Canada trade relations and now a sustained effort is needed to build on that foundation and increase the bilateral trade. He also expressed need to bring the Pakistani and Canadian businesses together so that they get understanding of businesses in both countries and explore new investment opportunities.