Case Study 10: The SPS Agreement and Crisis Management: The Chile-EU Avian Influenza Experience

07/07/2020    17

I. The problem 

In May 2002, Chilean sanitary authorities were notified of a possible outbreak of avian influenza(1) (AI — also known as bird flu). Until then, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) had never occurred in Chile(2) or in any other country in South America.(3)

Chilean authorities and the poultry industry were suddenly confronted with huge challenges: (i) the control of a highly contagious viral disease that can produce very high levels of mortality; (ii) the eradication of the disease in order to regain the status it had as a disease-free country; and (iii) the need to maintain the confidence of its major trading partner to ensure that the safeguard sanitary measure adopted by the European Commission would not be transformed into a permanent measure.

The first outbreak occurred in a broiler breeder farm that hosted 617, 800 breeders and a hatchery and was located near a broiler operation containing nearly 1.5 million broilers.(4) It was followed by a second outbreak in a turkey breeder farm that held four dark houses for young birds containing a total of 26,000 birds, four breeding houses with 24,000 birds and a hatchery.(5)

At the time of the outbreak, the poultry industry(6) in Chile was concentrated in seven companies producing over 400,000 tons a year of fresh poultry meat(7) with an average annual growth of 11.4%.(8) Exports amounted to US$69 million in 2001, $44 million in 2002 and $72 million in 2003,(9) with Mexico and the European Union (EU) accounting for over 80% of total exports.(10) The industry was concentrated in three regions(11) quite apart from two others where poultry is reared for domestic consumption.(12)

Following the outbreak Chile’s avian influenza-free status was affected and access to export markets was closed.

The Chilean authorities adopted an extensive and rigorous sanitary programme aimed at controlling the spread of the disease and eradicating it in as little time as possible. This approach reflected Chile’s strict sanitary policy towards exotic diseases on List A of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and aimed at regaining market access as soon as possible. The Chilean authorities sought to obtain from the EU regionalization of their territory, once and if the disease was controlled and until it could regain disease-free status. This two-stage approach represented the quickest way in which to restore access to export markets.

The authorities succeeded, from a sanitary point of view, in controlling the spread of the disease immediately and eradicating it soon after. They succeeded in proving Chile’s sanitary status to the EU, so that the EU granted regionalization three months after imposing a ban on imports and within six months had lifted the safeguard measure.

The handling of the crisis, both by Chile as exporting country and the EU as importing member is a success story for both WTO members and the world trading system. It demonstrates that a developing country with well-organized institutions can manage difficult sanitary problems in a manner that allows a complex decision-making WTO member to respond positively to market access demands.

II. Local and external players 


Four players were important in Chile’s management of the crisis:

  1. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock had overall political responsibility for the management of the situation.
  2. The Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) is an independent organization that reports to the Ministry of Agriculture and has technical, administrative, financial and legal autonomy. SAG’s main objectives are to avoid the introduction of exotic diseases into the national territory, to prevent any spread within the country and improve health status through control and/or eradication of diseases considered to be important. It has a National Directorate,(13) thirteen regional offices(14) and sixty-three local offices.(15)
  3. In the management of the AI crisis SAG was responsible for the technical decisions adopted, primarily the decision to depopulate infected farms, to avoid vaccination, to carry out a census of the entire country and to adopt a strict sanitation programme for the infected and adjacent areas. These decisions were guided by the primary goal of controlling and eradicating the disease through a ‘stamping-out’ strategy, in order to regain disease-free status.
  4. A second set of decisions adopted by SAG involved the suspension of export certificates and the immediate notification of the situation to trading partners and international organizations. Finally, SAG seems to have been responsible for the policy of transparency that permeated the management of the entire crisis.
  5. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Market Access Department at the Economic Directorate, and the Chilean missions to the EU and the WTO.
  6. The ministry was responsible for relations with the EU and the WTO. From the Market Access Department, Macarena Vidal(16) co-ordinated and led presentations to the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Committee and co-ordinated with Francisco Bahamonde(17) at the Chilean mission to the EU all contacts and presentations to the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (SANCO) at the European Commission.
  7. The private sector, which included poultry producers, the Association of Avian Producers (APA) that represents over 95% of poultry producers, the Association of Egg Producers (ASOHUEVO) and the Association of Medical Veterinarians Specializing in Aviculture (AMEVEA).

These key players worked within several committees formed by the government to discuss and co-ordinate decisions and strategies.

At the political level a committee was formed by the Minister of Agriculture, the Under-Secretary of Agriculture, the national director of SAG, the chief of the Livestock Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and advisers from the Ministry of Agriculture. This committee met regularly with representatives of the industry and its Associations.

At the technical level a committee was formed by the permanent veterinary staff of SAG, the technical staff of the poultry industry, the administrative staff of SAG and representatives of medical veterinarians specializing in poultry farming and academia.

At the operational level a structure was formed comprising professional and technical staff from SAG and specially hired officials to implement the operative actions.

More than seventy professionals and technicians were dedicated exclusively to the eradication campaign, with direct costs to the public sector of US$683,000.

In addition, producers’ veterinarians, under the supervision of official veterinarians, undertook several sanitation programme activities.

The European Union 

The European Commission was responsible on behalf of the EU. Within the Commission, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO) took the lead, through Directorate E(18) responsible for Food Safety and Directorate F in charge of the Food and Veterinary Office.(19)

DG SANCO, on the basis of scientific advice and support from the European Food Safety Authority, is responsible for the EU’s policy and legislation on food safety, animal health, animal welfare and plant health within the EU. Its tasks include responsibility for control systems in third countries in order to ensure compliance with EC measures for exports to the EU.

Concerning Chilean exports of poultry, Directorate E was involved at two stages, first when authorizing Chile as a third country for exports. For several years Chile has been listed as a third country from which the member states authorize imports of fresh meat,(20) live poultry and hatching eggs,(21) meat products,(22) and minced meat and meat preparations.(23) These decisions required complete knowledge of the sanitary situation of the country as well as of its legal and institutional framework and the organization of the industry. The authorizations included granting SAG the authority to issue export certificates, which ensure that the product complies with EC legislation. The Directorate relied on the findings of missions performed by the Veterinary Office.

Second, Directorate E prepared decisions concerning the safeguard measure.(24) As chair of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health DG SANCO-Directorate E was responsible for circulating all information received from Chile, incorporating the item in the agenda of the committee and preparing the draft for the proposed measure to be voted on by the committee. In addition it was responsible for the required inter-service consultations (with DG Trade, DG Agriculture, DG External Relations, the Secretariat General and the legal service) and drafted the final proposals for decisions to be formally adopted by the College. Directorate E made proposals concerning two decisions. The first one requested member states to ban imports from Chile.(25) The second accepted temporary regionalization of Chile’s territory, thereby reducing the impact of the ban on Chilean products.(26)

Directorate F completed a routine mission on 3-11 December 2001 to ‘assess compliance with relevant EC requirements for imports into the EU of poultry meat, poultry meat products, live poultry and hatching eggs’.(27) The report was an important input for the decisions taken by DG SANCO and the Standing Committee, as it was a recent comprehensive study of the legal and institutional organization and capabilities of the Chilean sanitary system, including its attributions, the system of laboratory services, animal health controls, veterinary supervision and food safety controls.

Knowledge of the Chilean system allowed DG SANCO to understand fully and assess the information submitted by the Chilean authorities concerning the evolution of the crisis.

World Organization for Animal Health

A third player that indirectly influenced the outcome of this case was the OIE, which aims at ensuring transparency in the global animal disease and zoonosis situation. It collects, analyzes and disseminates scientific veterinary information; provides expertise and encourages international solidarity in the control of animal diseases; safeguards world trade(28) by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products; and promotes veterinary services.

The participation of the OIE was defined by its aim of ensuring transparency in animal health. In this regard the OIE manages the World Animal Health Information System, based on the commitment of member countries to declare through the OIE their main animal diseases, including zoonoses. It includes the rapid alert system for notification to members of an outbreak of a notifiable disease and a database for the notification of the animal health status of its members.

On 30 May, SAG notified the OIE of its first suspicion of AI, and on 5 June it confirmed the presence of HPAI.(29) Thereafter SAG submitted six follow-up reports informing the OIE of the evolution of the disease and the sanitation programme.(30) On 19 December SAG notified the OIE that it declared the entire Chilean territory free of HPAI.

In addition, and responding to a request from SAG, the OIE was instrumental in identifying AI experts who could audit and advise on the sanitation programme. OIE recommended two Italian experts, Dr Ilaria Capua (virologist) and Dr Stefano Marangon (epidemiologist)(31) who carried out a mission in Chile on 17-25 July. The mission was organized and financed by SAG.

The experts’ mission took place when most of the emergency work had been completed and thousands of tests and samples had been collected. Its main task was to audit the sanitation programme and help SAG to gather and interpret information on laboratory tests and epidemiological data.(32)

III. Facts(33) 

Following a legal requirement to notify the SAG regional office of any suspicion of AI or Newcastle disease, on 23 May 2002 a broiler breeder farm (Mitil) notified an unusually high mortality rate, which, after an official inspection carried out the next day by SAG veterinarians, led to HPAI being suspected. This first notification activated the National Emergency System for Animal Health.

Days later, surveillance actions caused a second outbreak of AI in a turkey breeder farm 4 km away (Tremolen) to be detected.(34) Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of HPAI in two sectors of the farm.

These two breeding farms, designated as the infected area, were put under official quarantine and after serological testing SAG ordered the destruction of the flock. In Mitil, SAG’s decision covered 100% of the bird population (460,000 birds) and the destruction of over 100,000 hatching eggs. In Tremolen it covered two breeding sectors (18,000 birds). The procedure was completed within a few days and carcasses were buried on the spot. Animals in two other sectors at Tremolen that did not appear to be infected were put under permanent surveillance and stringent biosecurity measures to ensure that the virus would not circulate. The quarantine declared in the infected area also meant the control and restriction of all movements of products into and out of the area, disinfecting of vehicles and new biosecurity measures. It covered the period up to 15 December 2002 and was lifted on that date when the sanitation process was completed and the absence of viral activity was verified.

A peripheral zone 10 km in diameter surrounding the infected area was established for surveillance and increased sanitary controls: intense testing(35) for sixteen commercial farms and increased testing(36) for 258 farms that hosted birds were put into effect.

Throughout the rest of the country a monitoring programme was carried out for all poultry farms in order to diagnose the scope of the outbreak.(37)

Private veterinarians supervised by officials from SAG implemented these initial measures.

By 21 June, when preliminary laboratory tests indicated the possibility of HPAI, as a preventive measure SAG stopped certifying exports of live poultry and hatching eggs, live ratites and hatching eggs, fresh meat from poultry, ratites, wild and farmed feathered game and poultry meat preparations, and poultry meat products. By the end of June both outbreaks were typified as the HPAI virus by the OIE reference laboratories (Ames in the United States and Weybridge in the United Kingdom). Apparently it had started as a low pathogenic AI and mutated into a highly pathogenic one.

These findings were notified by SAG to Chile’s trading partners and the OIE.(38)

By then, one EU member state had already adopted a safeguard measure and banned all relevant imports from Chile, including consignments certified before 21 June that were already on their way.

To regulate and harmonize the situation within the EU member states and with Chile’s decision to stop certification of exports, DG SANCO included the item on the agenda of the July meeting of the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health. It prepared the draft for a safeguard measure and completed the required inter-service consultations. The European Commission adopted Decision 2002/607/EC of 23 July, requiring member states to prohibit the importation of products from Chile and requiring them to authorize the importation of certified exports for meat obtained from animals slaughtered before 21 June. This decision was applicable until 1 January 2003, the six months foreseen by OIE guidelines. It was to be reviewed, in the light of the evolution of the disease, before 20 September 2002.

Between mid-June and the end of September the first four steps of a six-step sanitation programme were implemented in the infected zone:(39) (i) the fermentation of waste and beds; (ii) appropriate burial; (¢) the washing and cleaning of all places and equipment related to the production chain; (iii) the disinfecting of houses, equipment and materials used both indoors and outdoors. All that remained were steps (iv), a period of silence of four weeks, and (iv), concerning verification of the absence of viral activity by populating the sheds with new susceptible birds demonstrably negative to AI.(40) New biosecurity measures in all breeding farms had also been implemented and surveillance and testing in the unaffected sectors in Tremolen were maintained.

Throughout this period in the adjacent peripheral area of surveillance, authorities completed a census of all breeding farms, implemented controls on the movements of animals, adopted biosecurity measures similar to those adopted for the infected area and continued surveillance and testing.(41) At first brigades were organized with technicians and specialist professionals looking at the places of residence of the workers at Mitil and Tremolen and testing all the owners of birds living nearby in order to see whether the virus had spread beyond the workplace. In addition, all farms hosting birds in the entire area were identified and at least two tests per owner were performed.(42)

In the disease-free zone, a national monitoring programme was carried out on all poultry farms. Two censuses were completed and farms voluntarily adopted new biosecurity measures suggested by SAG.

By the end of September, three months after the last of the livestock had been eliminated and when revision of Decision 2002/607/EC was due, the Chilean authorities were well on their way to completing the sanitation programme adopted for the infected area, the adjacent area and the disease-free part of the country.

At that time the Chilean authorities requested DG SANCO to consider the regionalization of their territory. In accordance with Article 6 of the SPS Agreement, Chile submitted all relevant information to show that the identified area was free of avian influenza and that this condition was unlikely to change.

The request was preceded by the regular submission of information at the end of each sanitation action(43) and a meeting in Brussels at which Chilean veterinary authorities presented evidence of the definitive extent of the outbreak (two sources), the sanitation programme in place and evidence of the disease-free situation of the rest of the country.

On the basis of the information presented by Chile, DG SANCO proposed a new measure, which was approved by the Standing Committee. Inter-service consultations were completed and by 14 October Decision 2002/796/EC was adopted, providing for the temporary regionalization of Chile and authorizing exports from the areas that had not been affected by the disease.(44) The EC based its decision on the fact that since early June, when the two outbreaks had been confirmed, no further outbreaks had occurred; that SAG could guarantee that the disease problem was confined to regions V and VI, with well-controlled borders as regards the movement of animals, personnel and vehicles; and that extensive screening had been performed which gave positive results, indicating that the disease had been successfully eradicated.

IV. Challenges faced and the outcome 

The Chilean authorities and the poultry industry had been faced with huge challenges: the control and eradication of the first ever occurrence of HPAI in South America and the need to maintain the confidence of its major trading partner to ensure that the sanitary measure would be promptly lifted in order to re-establish its exports.

SAG, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chilean mission to the EU successfully and ably represented Chile’s domestic producers to regain market access in as short a time as possible.

Clearly the costs borne by the state(45) and the private sector(46) would have been wasted without appropriate guidance and actions by the Chilean authorities. It was SAG which led the rapid implementation of a national structure that allowed thorough monitoring, testing and the implementation of a sanitary programme in the infected and adjacent areas. SAG and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ably maintained contact with the EU authorities. They regularly submitted information to DG SANCO and were able to present scientific evidence of the status of the disease and the sanitation programme. This contact at technical level allowed each party to work in various languages in order to keep up with the speed of events.

At the request of the Chilean authorities, the parties met twice in Brussels: in July to make a presentation of the situation including the results of the testing programme, guarantees of the sanitary status of products certified for export and guarantees of the suspension of certification of exports. A second meeting was held in September, when the Chilean authorities presented a report on the definitive extent of the outbreak, the evolution of the sanitation programme and evidence that a large part of the country was disease-free.

SAG used OIE experts to audit and, as the relevant international organization, to validate its sanitation programme. The mission served its purpose, and SAG was able to corroborate the appropriateness of the measures and the strategy adopted, and was useful in rectifying aspects of the sanitation programme by including components recommended by the mission and which until then had not been considered.(47)

The Chilean producers were faced with the very onerous consequences of the decisions adopted by SAG.(48) Nevertheless, even in the light of these decisions, the producers and the APA collaborated with SAG at all times and contributed to the rapid implementation of the emergency measures. Private veterinarians supervised by official veterinarians carried out some of the most important tasks such as the emptying of farms and sampling. They shared the objective set by the veterinary authorities, of solving the sanitary problem and regaining market access to and the confidence of trading partners.

For Chile’s private sector the experts’ mission was valuable in four ways: first, academically, due to the considerable experience and research brought by the experts on dealing with AI; second, concerning epidemiology data and suitability of biosecurity measures; third, in their validation of the procedures used by officials in laboratories; and fourth, due to their recommendations concerning measures to adopt in the period following the eradication of the disease.

The European Commission was faced with the challenge of closing the market during the period when trade in poultry meat, meat products, meat preparations and live animals represented a threat to animal health in the EU. It was also faced with the challenge of reopening market access immediately after the threat was removed. This required an assessment of the validity of the scientific evidence presented by Chile and the commitment to remove the sanitary measure once the sanitary conditions were shown to be sound.

Faced with these challenges, the parties had recourse to the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phitosanitary Measures. On the one hand, paragraph 1 of Article 6 includes the obligation of importing members to ensure that their SPS measures are adapted to the sanitary characteristics of the area — whether it is the entire country, part of it or parts of several countries. It also indicates the criteria that members must take into account when adapting a measure to regional conditions.(49) On the other hand, paragraph 3 of Article 6 of the Agreement establishes an obligation on the exporting country claiming that an area within its territory is disease-free to provide the necessary evidence in order to demonstrate objectively that the area is currently and likely to remain disease-free. For this purpose, it requires the exporting member to grant access to the importing member for inspection, testing and other relevant procedures.

In addition, paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Preamble of the SPS Agreement recognize the importance of international standards, guidelines and recommendations vis-à-vis sanitary measures that ensure the desired protection and minimize negative effects on trade. In this context it recognizes the relevance of the OIE.

The relevant provisions of the SPS Agreement demonstrated its full value thanks to actions taken by these two administrations. Within three months the authorities of both parties — Chile and the EU — were able to satisfy themselves that, faced with a very serious sanitary problem, trade could be partly restored without in any way compromising sanitary standards.

The European Commission adopted a sanitary measure requesting its member states to ban imports from Chile.(50) This measure was notified to the WTO.(51) Three months later, when evidence showed that the disease had not spread, it granted temporary regionalization(52) and notified the WTO of this step.(53) Important from the trade perspective is the fact that the safeguard measure was adopted from the outset as a measure with an expiry date — 1 January 2003. Its lifespan of nearly six months reflected the recommendations of the OIE with no need for additional procedures to restore full market access for Chilean products.

On 19 December 2002 Chile notified the OIE that on the basis of scientific evidence it declared itself free of avian influenza.

In this way, the EC succeeded in guaranteeing that products introduced to the European market complied with EU sanitary and health standards. The rapid response by the EC was influenced by several factors such as (i) its knowledge of the institutional and legal framework that existed in Chile for export of poultry, through the mission of the Veterinary Office and the recently negotiated Association Agreement(54) and their knowledge of the structure of the industry;(55) (ii) Chile’s transparency; and (iii) the report from the OIE experts’ mission, which was an important element in establishing credibility, and assuring the appropriateness of the measures taken and the significance of the laboratory results. All three factors contributed to creating the necessary confidence of the Standing Committee in accepting the information submitted by Chile and its request to be regionalized.

V. Lessons to be learned: the players’ views 


Government officials from SAG confirming and explaining the policies outlined in official documents,(56) Macarena Vidal(57) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Felipe de la Carrera and Pedro Guerrero from the APA all highlight three elements as key to the success of the management of this crisis:

  1. Transparency: SAG was transparent in providing all the information possible on the situation from the moment it had any suspicion of the presence of AI. Even before HPAI was confirmed, and on the basis of preliminary laboratory results, SAG suspended the issuing of export certificates and informed its trading partners, the relevant international organizations and the private sector. Thereafter, the details of the sanitation programme and all measures adopted were regularly supplied to the European Commission and the OIE.
  2. Teamwork between all levels of actors connected with the poultry industry (entrepreneurs, producers’ associations, private veterinarians and universities). This teamwork was key to the successful control of the disease. It allowed the immediate implementation of an emergency plan that avoided the spread of the disease and the implementation of new non-binding biosecurity measures in the disease-free area to reinforce prevention of the disease. Government officials, OIE experts and the private sector stressed this element. They all agreed to label it as ‘of vital importance’.
  3. The active participation of Chile in international organizations such the WTO and OIE, informing them about the problem and the sanitation programme, coupled with the visit from OIE experts, resulted in a fair understanding of the situation in Chile.

The Chilean authorities indicated that if a similar situation were to arise again, only one element would be handled differently: the participation of entrepreneurs. It should be recognized that producers in the same production chain might have different interests depending on their individual output. The example mentioned was the discussion and analysis of vaccination as an alternative control measure.

At the same time, they raise their concern that although Article 6 of the SPS Agreement mandates regionalization, not all WTO members show the political will to implement it in a reasonable way. Lack of active implementation of this provision would greatly and unduly penalize a transparent, thorough and costly exercise such as the one performed by Chile. Consequently, and in the light of positive experiences such as this case, Article 6 of the SPS Agreement should be further developed.

The APA indicated that two other lessons learnt are the importance of taking extreme biosecurity measures in producing farms and the importance of producer associations able to lead the crisis on behalf of producers and able to relate rapidly with the public sector on an ongoing basis. They mention that one element requiring improvement is the ability of their laboratories to complete diagnoses in a rapid and efficient manner.


Henri Belveze,(58) Maria Pittman(59) and Eva Maria Zamora,(60) offering their views in a personal capacity, highlight the same elements as key to the rapid reopening of the market for Chilean poultry exports.

  1. The transparency with which the Chilean authorities acted, at the outset of the outbreak of the disease and throughout the process.
  2. The quality of the information regularly provided by Chilean authorities, which at all times was complete, coherent and consistent, including when questions were raised or follow-up information was requested. Equally important was the quality of the delegations present at the bilateral meetings held in Brussels. The delegations included veterinary and scientific experts able to address technical questions allowing for a rich exchange of information.
  3. The quality of the veterinary services in Chile, which had been documented as recently as December 2001 by the European Veterinary Office. Of particular importance was the responsibility allocated by Chilean law to SAG to adopt necessary measures to guarantee the sanitary status of the country. In the absence of a recent mission by the Veterinary Office an urgent mission could have been necessary before the regionalization proposed by Chile was accepted.
  4. The quality of the relationship between technical officials.
  5. Chile’s reliance on advice from experts recognized by the OIE.

In addition to these elements, it is the view of these DG SANCO officials that Chile’s management of the crisis and the rapid response by the EU is an example to be followed by other WTO members. It is their view that other WTO members, faced with equally complete and scientifically valid information on the disease-free status of an exporting member, would not follow expedited procedures for accepting regionalization or, worst, would not accept the disease-free status of a member. According to these officials, some WTO members request a full risk assessment financed by the exporting country regardless of existing information concerning the last outbreak of the disease. Consequently, they consider that it would be useful to develop Article 6 of the SPS Agreement further, to establish guidelines that would lead to a similar positive response by all WTO members and avoid unduly penalizing trade after a sanitary situation is resolved.

OIE experts 

Dr Ilaria Capua explains that from a sanitary point of view, the success of this case is primarily due to the rapid response offered by the Chilean veterinary authorities. In a short time a system of field veterinarians reporting, testing and handling information was organized. It all meant that a highly contagious disease ‘did not get out of control’. In addition, the structure of the industry (an element also highlighted by DG SANCO(61) ) posed an advantage for the control of this disease. The industry was concentrated in three regions, and breeding farms were physically separated from slaughterhouses and cutting plants.

Dr Capua considers that it is not possible to derive general lessons, as a sanitary response varies depending on the type of disease, the type of industry, the set-up of the industry and the set-up of the government.

Nevertheless Dr Capua emphasizes that this case shows that a developing country is able to manage a sanitary crisis successfully when its institutional organization allows for a fast response and when the authorities co-ordinate their efforts with industry.

Dr Capua mentions that success requires co-ordination with the private sector. In this particular case it was key to completing in such a short time the extensive testing of the industry and the stamping-out measures taken in the infected farms. This was key to avoiding the spread of the disease.

VI. Conclusion 

The circumstances surrounding the case thus indicate that this success story was no accident.

It seemed to be the natural consequence of thorough work by the Chilean veterinary authorities for years before the sanitary emergency appeared, coupled with commitment, institutional organization and collaboration with the private sector, trading partners and international organizations throughout the management of the crisis. The institutional organization of the veterinary services, particularly their independence and legal responsibilities, allowed them to take costly but necessary decisions expeditiously within an intergovernmental system of exchange of information and consultation. The case demonstrates that it is possible for a developing country to handle complex SPS emergencies which, if not controlled within days, can have potentially drastic consequences. It also demonstrates that by being transparent with importers the necessary confidence that the case has been resolved can be developed.

Both trading partners benefited from the legal and institutional framework set up by the WTO SPS Agreement. Based on their experience both argued for further developments of Article 6 of the SPS Agreement.


1.- Influenza infections can affect all avian species, in particular chickens, turkeys and ducks. At the time of the Chilean outbreak, influenza infections were divided into two groups: highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) classified under List A of the World Organization for Animal Health (formerly the International Office of Epizootics — OIE), and low pathogenic avian influenza, which causes a mild disease and was not listed by the OIE as a notifiable disease.
List A includes ‘transmissible diseases that have the potential for very serious and rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, that are of serious socio-economic or public health consequence and that are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products’ List B includes ‘diseases that are of serious socio-economic or public health consequence and that are of major importance in the international trade of animals and animal products’. This classification of diseases will change as of 2005. OIE website

2.- Chile País Libre de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, Dec. 2002. 

3.- Avian Influenza in Chile, Report of the Mission carried out in Chile from 17 to 25 July, Drs Ilaria Capua and Stefano Marangon, OIE Experts. 

4.- Ibid. 

5.- Ibid. 

6.- Poultry meat, poultry meat products and preparations, live poultry (ratites) and hatching eggs. 

7.- Asociación de Productores Avícolas de Chile, website

8.- Average annual growth between 1990 and 2003. Asociación de Productores Avícolas de Chile, website

9.- Asociación de Productores Avícolas de Chile, website

10.- By 2003 the EU became the main destination of, and accounts for over 50% of, total exports. Ibid. 

11.- Regions V (Valparaiso), VI (O’Higgins) and RM (Region Metropolitana). 

12.- Regions VII and IX. 

13.- Responsible for legislation, policy, co-ordination, supervision and control. 

14.- Responsible for the co-ordination and supervision of technical operations. 

15.- In charge of implementation of activities and on-the-spot operations. 

16.- Advisor on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues, Market Access Department, Economic Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

17.- Agriculture attaché, exclusively responsible for agriculture and SPS issues. 

18.- Food Safety: Plant Health, Animal Health and Welfare, and International Questions. 

19.- Food and Veterinary Office. 

20.- Commission Decision 94/85/EC, OJ No. L 44, 17/2/1994, p. 31. 

21.- Commission Decision 95/233/EC, OJ No. L 156, 7/7/1995, p. 76. 

22.- Commission Decision 97/222/EC, OJ No. L 89, 4/4/1997, p. 39. 

23.- Commission Decision 2000/572/EC, OJ No. L 240, 23/9/2000, p. 19. 

24.- Regulation 2002/178/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, OJ No. L 031, 1/2/2002, p. 1. 

25.- Commission Decision 2002/607/EC. OJ No. L 195, 24/07/2002, p. 86. 

26.- Commission Decision 2002/796/EC, OJ No. L 277, 15/10/2002, p. 21. 

27.- Final Report of a Mission carried out in Chile from 03/12/01 to 11/12/01 in order to assess compliance with relevant EC requirements for imports into the EU for poultry meat, poultry meat products, live poultry and hatching eggs. European Commission, Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General. DG (SANCO)/3430/2001. 

28.- Within its mandate and under the WTO SPS Agreement, OIE Mission, OIE website

29.- Influenza Aviar en Chile, Sospecha. Hernan Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 22, 31/5/2002, p. 85. 

30.- Influenza Aviar en Chile, Informe de Seguimiento No. 1 Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 24, 14/6/2002, p. 95. Influenza Aviar en Chile, Informe de Seguimiento No. 2 Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 25, 21/6/2002, p. 103. Influenza Aviar en Chile, Informe de Seguimiento Nos. 3 y 4 Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 27, 5/7/2002, pp. 114-15. Influenza Aviar en Chile, Informe de Seguimiento No. 5 Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 32, 9/8/2002, p. 149. Influenza Aviar en Chile, Informe de Seguimiento No. 6 (Informe Final), Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture, Informaciones Sanitarias, Vol. 15, No. 39, 27/9/2002, p. 186. 

31.- Both from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Virology Department, OIE and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease. 

32.- Dr Ilaria Capua. 

33.- Based on the description contained in Notificación de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, Octubre 2002; Chile País Libre de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, December 2002; and Avian Influenza in Chile, Report of the Mission carried out in Chile from 17 to 25 July, Drs Ilaria Capua and Stefano Marangon, OIE experts. 

34.- On 9 and 10 June two more notifications were received but laboratory examinations rejected the presence of AI. 

35.- Every seven days. 

36.- Every fifteen days. 

37.- Between 1 June and 15 July over 79,000 serum samples were tested for AI. 

38.- Notifications by Hernán Rojas Olavarria, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Department of Livestock Protection, Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), Ministry of Agriculture. 

39.- In Tremolen, these four steps were implemented between mid-Aug. and the end of Oct. 

40.- These two last steps were completed by the second week of Dec. 

41.- Every twenty-one days in commercial farms and every forty-five days for small farms hosting birds. 

42.- Workers on poultry farms are forbidden by sanitary measures to have birds at their place of residence. 

43.- The regular submission of information was positively highlighted by Maria Pittman and Eva Maria Zamora from Directorate E, SANCO. 

44.- Commission Decision 2002/796/EC, OJ No. L 277, 15/10/2002, p. 21. 

45.- These costs, including hiring additional veterinary staff, performing nationwide testing, depopulation and quarantine programme, amounted to US$683,000. Chile País Libre de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, December 2002. 

46.- Including additional professional staff, loss of animals and costs of testing, these costs amounted to US$5, 675,000. No state compensation was available to cover these costs. Ibid.

47.- Chile País Libre de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, December 2002. 

48.- Suspension of exports certificates, depopulation of infected animals, complete sanitation programme, additional biosecurity measures. 

49.- ‘In assessing the sanitary or phytosanitary characteristics of a region, Members shall take into account, inter alia, the level of prevalence of specific diseases or pests, the existence of eradication or control programmes, and appropriate criteria or guidelines, which may be developed by the relevant international organizations.’ Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Art. 6, para. 1. 

50.- Commission Decision 2002/607/EC. Official Journal L 195, 24/07/2002, p. 86. 

51.- G/SPS/N/EEC/172, 25 July 2002. 

52.- Commission Decision 2002/796/EC, Official Journal L 277, 15/10/2002, p. 21. 

53.- G/SPS/N/EEC/174, 1 Oct. 2002. 

54.- Council Decision 2002/979 Agreement Establishing an association between the European Community and its member states, of the one part, and the Republic of Chile, of the other part. 

55.- The industry is at the same time located in large spaces but concentrated within three regions in Chile. According to Ms Pittman these factors contributed to the control of the disease and the avoidance of its spreading to other farms. 

56.- Notificación de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, October 2002; Chile País Libre de Influenza Aviar, Government of Chile, Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, December 2002. 

57.- Advisor on Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues, Market Access Department, Economic Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

58.- Deputy head of unit. 

59.- Veterinary administrator. 

60.- Veterinary administrator. 

61.- Maria Pittman. 

Source: WTO