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U.S., Brazil protest Thailand's pesticide ban over impact on exports

Christian Fernsby |
The United States and Brazil lodged separate protests with Thailand over its ban on two farm chemicals earlier this month, documents reviewed by Reuters show, saying the "restrictive" and "serious" move could hurt key agricultural exports.

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ngkok's pesticide ban could hit U.S. and Brazilian exports of wheat and soy that are worth more than $1 billion a year, according to United Nations data, potentially setting up a diplomatic showdown with Thailand, a leading importer of the commodities from both countries.

The knock-on effect on Thailand's food chain could also add tens of billions of dollars to costs while slashing millions of jobs, according to one Thai industry estimate.

Thailand added weedkiller paraquat and insecticide chlorpyrifos to its list of most hazardous substances on June 1, citing a need to protect human health. The move triggered another health regulation banning imported food products containing residues of prohibited chemicals.

The import ban has been drafted pending comments from interested parties up to July 18 and will become law once published in Thailand's Royal Gazette. There is no apparent legal mechanism to derail the ban without first amending Thai health law.

The United States and Brazil challenged Thailand's move in separate letters in late May after Thailand informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the pending import ban.

Both the United States and Brazil suggested the Southeast Asian country lacked new scientific evidence, as required by the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), to justify a measure that could restrict international trade.

"We have general concerns regarding the notified actions which appear to be more trade-restrictive than necessary," Russ Nicely, Agricultural Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, wrote in a letter reviewed by Reuters.

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