Press reports indicate that Zimbabwe's access to the EU beef market could be under threat from two developments stemming from the ongoing political and economic crisis in the country. The first threat arises from the breakdown of foot and mouth disease controls and livestock identification schemes as a result of land invasions. This could increase the risk of foot mouth disease spreading to commercial beef herds and hence lead to the pre-emptive closure of the EU market on the basis of the threat of foot and mouth disease from Zimbabwean exports to the EU market. The second threat arises from the need to import maize as a result of declining domestic production. It is feared that GM crops could be imported for food and feed purposes. If this were to occur then Zimbabwe would lose its GM free status and face the closure of the EU beef market to Zimbabwean exports.
On August 21st 2001, as a result of a breakdown in foot and mouth disease controls and land occupations involving the cutting of fences an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was reported in Zimbabwe and exports of beef to the EU were immediately terminated.
Developments in Zimbabwe highlight the growing importance that SPS related issues will have on the ACP beef export trade to the EU market.