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International trade is a key factor in the economic and financial stability of many countries. Trade restrictions resulting from an animal disease outbreak can have devastating economic effects.

With this in mind, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service signed three international agreements on this very topic last month at a meeting of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris, France. These agreements will make it easier to maintain safe and fair trade of animals and animal products if an animal disease outbreak occurs. They emphasize the cooperation and understanding of the countries involved to promote shared knowledge, data and resources, which can be crucial during an animal health event.

The three arrangements, signed by the United States, relate to the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve (also signed by Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom), the Sharing of Vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease (Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand), and Supporting the Recognition of Zoning for Foreign Animal Disease Outbreaks (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand).

The International Animal Health Emergency Reserve agreement allows for countries to share emergency response teams and personnel as needed during animal disease outbreaks. It also lets the countries involved to act rapidly and more effectively control and eradicate an outbreak.

The Sharing of Vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease agreement allows for countries to more readily request and consider requests for FMD vaccine from their respective FMD vaccine banks. This particular arrangement provides an opportunity to share vaccine resources can be beneficial during an outbreak and leaves the door open to include other countries' FMD banks if there is future interest.

Supporting the Recognition of Zoning for Foreign Animal Disease Outbreaks agreement allows countries to understand and accept each other's processes for managing outbreaks and paves the way for recognizing 'zones' for trading purposes. This arrangement would allow for trade to be resumed early from disease-free zones and support continuing trade from affected zones where biosecurity risks can be effectively managed through specific import conditions, such as product treatments.

Animal health experts have a shared vision to safeguard our nation's agricultural resources and to support international trade and cooperation while preventing the introduction of dangerous and costly disease in our country. These agreements will complement our existing preparedness activities and benefit not only US producers and consumers, but the global community.

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