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SPS: Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues

Title Saudi Arabia- Bovine animals and meat
Creation Date 10 May 2004
Last update/check 20 Mar 2014
Barrier id 040027
Sector Agriculture and Fisheries
SPS measure Bovine Spongiform Encephalopaty (BSE)
Country Saudi Arabia
Description of the measure

The GCC import ban of live animals from the EU, on BSE grounds, remains in place since 2001. According to the GCC, this is the basis for making inspection missions to EU Member States that wish to export to GCC countries live animals and (inexplicably) their products - such as deboned meat.

The GCC justified the lack of a common policy for the import of beef from the EU with the scope of the GCC ban, i.e. on live animals cattle only, and on the fact that diferent authorities have different interpretations. This position is clealry not scientifically justified, and is not aligned with the requirements of the OIE - thus, Saudi Arabia does not fulfill the obligations of the WTO SPS Agreement.

In practice, different GCC countries follow different policies after visiting exporting countries. Some of them also allow imports of beef. Others, like Saudi Arabia, require an additional on-the-spot inspection - on top of the inspection that was performed to live animals!


In their meeting of June 2010, the GCC issued a recommendation to lift the ban on imported LIVE ANIMALS from the Netherlands, Germany, and France, after the on-the-spot inspections of March 2010 carried out by an expert’s delegation of GCC countries. Following these three visits, other GCC countries than Saudi Arabia have lifted the ban also on meat. 

Up to now, imports of live animals are no yet possible to all GCC countries because they have not yet transposed into their legal system the decision of the GCC, and because health certificates have not yet been agreed. The import of meat is possible in certain GCC countries only, especially those in which the same competent authority controls both live animals and their products.

In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) deals with imports of foodstuffs (including animal products. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) deals with the imports of live animals and plants.

The European Commission was informed by the SFDA that the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark can export MEAT to Saudi Arabia because the authorisation was granted by a different authority, before the import procedure introduced by the SFDA.

The "procedures of approving meat establishments" and the "ban and ban lifting procedures" of the SFDA can be found at their Internet website:

Barrier Status Ongoing
Actions Taken

The European Commission will continue working with the SFDA to lift the BSE import ban, to impose no conditions for the import of deboned meat (as required by the World Organisation for Animal Health - OIE), and for setting up clear inspection and reporting procedures that are aligned with those of the OIE.

Hs codes
  • 02 - Meat and edible meat offal
  • 01 - Live animals