Media Release

Agreement to stabilise trade in case of avian influenza

18 August 2014

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce today welcomed the signing of a bilateral agreement with the United States that will minimise the trade impact of an avian influenza outbreak in either country.

Minister Joyce said the agreement, which has been signed by the Chief Veterinary Officers of Australia and the United States, applied to trade between the two countries of all birds, poultry products and any commodity containing poultry products.

“Both countries understand how serious an avian influenza outbreak can be,” Minister Joyce said.

“We now have common processes for communicating and applying balanced, science-based import health measures in the event that avian influenza virus is confirmed in commercial poultry flocks.

“This agreement means we can continue to trade in all commodities that have been assessed as safe through agreed processes, without resorting to a kneejerk reaction that affects the domestic industries in both countries.

“It introduces a framework that will reduce any disruption of trade, should an outbreak occur, to a justifiable minimum based on the best available science.  It will also ensure that proper and proportional import health measures are in place at all times.

“The United States is one of our most valuable trading partners and the maturity of our relationship means that we can make sensible decisions about how we will operate should either country identify an outbreak of avian influenza.”

Protocols from the new agreement will be implemented in the event that high pathogenicity or low pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI or LPAI) virus is confirmed in commercial poultry flocks, or HPAI is confirmed in birds other than poultry, in either the United States or Australia.

“Over the past ten years, there have been four avian influenza incidents in Australia, resulting in significant disruption to our poultry and egg industries with a combined production value of about $2.9 billion,” Minister Joyce said.

The bilateral agreement with the US takes immediate effect, and follows the recent agreement with New Zealand on cooperative measures to combat foot-and-mouth disease.