Did the United States (particularly in the 20th century) ever impose any trade embargoes on the basis of health related concerns? Are there instances where the U.S. said that if Country X doesn't meet particular health standards, it will limit trade with said country?

  • Can you clarify "health related concerns?"?
    – DVK
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 2:33
  • 3
    You need to clarify what you mean by "embargo" and "limit trade". A general embargo on trade is an extreme measure, generally used for geo-political, not health concerns. For example the USA's policies today regarding Cuba and Iran. OTOH, we have numerous instances of the USA restricting imports of certain products based on health concerns - China has been the focus of much recent activity because of concerns about lead and other toxic substances in their products. Please clarify.
    – user2590
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is at least one example below.

As of June 21, 2011, the US had partial trade embargoes, issued by the CDC, on the import of birds from the following countries due to the H5N1 virus (bird flu):

East Asia and the Pacific:

  • Myanmar
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

South Asia:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan

Europe & Eurasia:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine


  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire)
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Togo

Near East:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Palestinian Autonomous Territories
  • Saudi Arabia

These have since been rescinded.

According to Princeton WordNet, a trade embargo is a government order restricting international trade. Wikipedia says that such embargoes can be partial embargoes, such as Princeton WordNet's import barrier. A country may choose what and how many items are excluded in a partial trade embargo. In the above case, the partial trade embargo restricts just the import of birds into the US.


  • For the record, here is how Congress refers to the Cuba embargo. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 18:27

No, there are no instances of "Country X does not meet health standards" leading the United States to stop trade with that country.

There are however plenty of cases when the United States (and also other countries) have stopped imports of particular products from particular because of health concerns. Countries where there are outbreak of "mad cow disease" will typically see other countries shutting down import of beef, as an example.

  • 1
    No, I am not asking for "proof of non-existence", I'm asking for the basis for your confidently made statement that "there are no instances". Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 10:51
  • 1
    @LennartRegebro There are conceivable situations were the idea is not so patently absurd. For example, suppose there were a disease in Country X that was transmitted by rodents, and this had become such a problem in Country X that all trade with Country X presented a significant risk of bringing infected rodents back to the US. Then, a trade embargo might be reasonable. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 17:56
  • 2
    @LennartRegebro - I had to downvote - EugeneSeidel is very correct. I said essentially the same thing in my comment on the question, but declined from making it an answer because I had no good sources. You are making an assertion about concrete facts, with no substantiation whatsoever.
    – user2590
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 18:18
  • 1
    @called2voyage: No "embargo" is not shorthand for "trade embargo". thefreedictionary.com/embargo en.wiktionary.org/wiki/embargo#English merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embargo The question is explicit about trade, not travel restrictions or shipping, but trade. Your attempt to shoehorn your "conceivable" situation into the question is silly. If you can find an example of a full trade embargo based on health concerns you prove me wrong, but every comment in which you don't serves no further purpose. Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 2:31
  • 1
    @called2voyage: The embargo against cuba is generally called "embargo" not "trade embargo". This is easily verified with a simple Google search. 32 million hits vs 390.000 hits Yes, please stop this discussion, it's pointless. Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 15:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.