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Govt objects to Singapore's restrictions on meat, eggs import

Singapore claimed that meat, eggs, and their products must be imported from approved sources in accredited countries or regions that meet the Singapore Food Agency's (SFA) standards

Singapore | meat | eggs

Asit Ranjan Mishra  |  New Delhi 

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Singapore currently allows the import of fresh eggs only from accredited farms in some countries (Representative image)

India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has questioned the restrictions that has imposed on the import of certain food items, such as and eggs, from the country for lack of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) between the two.

“India requests to explain the reasons for the non-existence of MRA with India’s regulatory authorities despite a comprehensive free-trade agreement (FTA), which is nearly two decades old,” it asked during a trade policy review over the city-state not allowing import of certain food items.

Singapore claimed that meat, eggs, and their products must be imported from approved sources in accredited countries or regions that meet the Singapore Food Agency’s (SFA) food safety and animal health standards and requirements.

“Accreditation is necessary as these products can carry food safety risks and animal diseases of public health and trade importance. We thank India for its interest and welcome further discussion with our SPS competent authority for food safety, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA),” the Southeast Asian country replied.

The SFA's accreditation procedure is a two-stage process. “The first stage involves country accreditation, where the country is assessed for regulatory oversight and freedom from animal diseases of important trade and public health concerns (such as foot-and-mouth disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

The second stage involves the individual establishment accreditation, where the food safety and quality programmes and operational hygiene practices of the export processing plants are evaluated. This involves submission of a documentary dossier, followed by an inspection,” Singapore said.

Singapore currently allows the import of fresh only from accredited farms in Australia, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States.

“Imports of broiler chickens and ducks are allowed only from accredited farms in Malaysia. Pigs may be imported only from one farm in Indonesia and one in Malaysia. Dairy products from countries that are not free from the foot-and-mouth disease may be imported only if subjected to treatment in accordance with the OIE guidelines,” it added.

India has been taking a tough stand against non-tariff barriers (NTBs) raised by its trading partners. Trade minister Piyush Goyal has even threatened reciprocal measures if certain countries do not remove such NTBs on Indian goods and services.

In October last year, Goyal called upon the Asean members to do away with NTBs and curb the misuse of FTAs by third parties, often outside the region.

“It is unfortunate” that recently “we had to deal with several restrictive barriers on our exports to Asean, particularly in agriculture and auto. I think this only results in reciprocal action from other countries, including India and will hurt the long-term desire of our leaders to expand trade between the two countries,” Goyal said at a special plenary with trade ministers of the region.

The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and Singapore came into force on August 1, 2005, and the first review was concluded on October 1, 2007. The second review of the CECA was launched in May 2010 but concluded in 2018. India exported goods worth $6.7 billion in FY21 and imported $9.6 billion in the same year from Singapore, leading to a bilateral trade deficit of $2.9 billion.

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First Published: Tue, January 11 2022. 23:46 IST