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THIS IS AN UNOFFICIAL SUMMARY OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE MEETING, PREPARED
BY THE WTO SECRETARIAT’S INFORMATION AND MEDIA RELATIONS DIVISION TO
HELP PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING. THE SECRETARIAT’S OFFICIAL SUMMARY REPORT
(SIMILAR TO MINUTES) IS THE ONLY AUTHORITATIVE AND DETAILED ACCOUNT.
Special and differential (s&d) treatment for developing countries
The SPS Committee adopted, in principle, a procedure proposed by Canada
to ensure greater responses to specific requests for special and
differential treatment, and transparency regarding these responses.
Origins: When the committee reviewed
recommended transparency procedures in March 2002, Egypt proposed adding
an “S&D box” to the form used for notifying SPS measures to the WTO, so
that the notifying government could spell out any special treatment for
developing countries, such as technical assistance, or more time for
these countries to adjust to the new requirements.
At the June 2002 meeting, Canada suggested as an alternative that
members agree to consultations whenever a developing country has
identified a problem relating to a notified SPS measure. The results of
this consultation would then be notified to the SPS Committee. The
Canadian proposal (G/SPS/W/127) was circulated at the November 2002
(Word format, 4 pages, 38 KB)
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This time: Many countries supported the
Canadian proposal as one useful step to address one aspect of the
problem, while recognizing that adopting the Canadian proposal would not
imply that the committee had completed it work on this.
Several countries said they would put forward additional proposals for
other possible actions.
The US offered to design a pilot project on how an importing country
might identify which developing countries would be affected by a new SPS
requirement. The EU stressed the need for assistance to help developing
countries establish effective enquiry points to screen notifications and
identify potential problems, in consultation with producers.
The committee adopted the Canadian proposal in principle, subject to the
development of a more detailed explanation of how the procedure is to be
The Committee also discussed other possible S&D measures, and will
continue at its June meeting.
Implementation of equivalence provisions
The committee examined clarification of the last outstanding issue
regarding its decision on implementing the equivalence provisions of the
Origins: One longstanding implementation
issue has been how to make operational the SPS Agreement’s provisions on
equivalence (Article 4) — governments accepting that different measures
used by other governments, which provide the same level of health
protection for food, animals and plants, can be equivalent to their own.
In October 2001, the SPS Committee adopted a decision on equivalence
which essentially provides guidelines to importers and exporters. In
agreeing to this decision, several members asked that three guidelines
be further clarified. In Doha, ministers charged the SPS Committee to
expeditiously develop a programme for further work on equivalence.
An ambitious work programme was adopted in March 2002, and in line with
this work programme the Committee agreed the clarification of two
guidelines in November 2002.
At this meeting: The committee discussed a
draft proposal for clarifying the third guideline, which deals with
comparing what is required from supplying country with the importing
country’s own measure. Argentina proposed that the SPS Committee adopt
the guidelines for judging equivalence developed in one of the Codex
Other members are concerned that the Codex guidelines might not be
appropriate for applying outside of the limited scope intended by Codex.
Argentina also wants the committee to consider modifications to the
already agreed clarification of one of the other guidelines, on the
importance of historic trade when judging equivalence. The Committee
agreed to hold at least one additional informal meeting in the interval
before its next meeting to consider Argentina’s proposals.
China presented the results of an evaluation of compliance with the
recommended notification procedures. This issue will be further
discussed by Members, but reaffirms the need for technical assistance to
developing countries to enable them to make effective use of the SPS
Specific trade concerns
A growing number of members are using the meetings to raise specific
trade concerns. Virtually one full day was devoted to this. Among the
issues raised were (full list of issues at end):
Us bioterrorism legislation: This will
require all enterprises to be registered if they intend to ship any food
products into the US, and many members expressed concern. The US
encouraged members to submit their comments in writing on each piece of
implementing legislation notified by the US.
Australia’s quarantine regulations: Many
members complained about the long delays and difficulties facing
exporters to Australia. The EU and the Philippines now have formal
dispute complaints on this.
Pest- or disease-free zones: The Committee
agreed to begin considering the issue of recognition of pest- or
disease-free zones, as a growing number of countries have identified
difficulties in having their zones recognized.
At least two capital-based experts from each of the 32 Caribbean and
Latin American countries participated in the SPS meetings, thanks to
funding provided by the US and Canada through the Inter-American
Institute for Agricultural Cooperation. This funding should permit
participation of IICA member countries for at least one more meeting of
the SPS Committee.
Convention on Biodiversity
Although the committee was unable to grant observer status to the
Convention on Biological Diversity, it did agree to invite the CBD
secretariat to provide an informal briefing session on the Cartagena
Protocol in the margins of the next SPS Committee meeting.
Paul Martin (Canada) was confirmed as the next chairperson, taking over
from Mrs Maria Fe Alberto-Chai Huu (Philippines) at the next meeting.
24-25 June 2003. Before these regular sessions, there will be informal
meetings on equivalence, special and differential treatment,
transparency, and on adaptation to regional conditions.
> SPS on the WTO website
Full list of specific trade concerns raised
restriction on imports of pears and apples because of ceratitis
capitata (raised by Argentina).
import requirements for Netherlands truss tomatoes (raised by the EU).
restrictions on imports of dry beans (raised by the US)
fumigation standards (raised by the US)
Decree No. 31 on inspection and quarantine administrative measures for
entry and exit of aquatic products (raised by EU)
restrictions on Austrian products (raised by the EU).
2001/661/EC regarding foot and mouth disease (document G/SPS/GEN/373)
(raised by South Africa)
foot and mouth disease-related restrictions on imports of corned beef
(raised by Argentina)
regarding animal by-products (raised by the US)
Issues previously raised
Document G/SPS/GEN/204/Rev.3 contains a summary of all specific trade
concerns raised in the SPS Committee since 1995. The references to page
numbers correspond to the English language version of the document.
(Word format, 140 pages, 1583 KB)
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restriction on durian imports (raised by Thailand)(p.15).
expansion and improvement of a laboratory to control aflatoxin levels
in Brazil nuts for export to EU markets (proposal presented by
restrictions on imports of potatoes, garlic and onions (raised by
official control restrictions (raised by New Zealand) (p.79).
restrictions on prawn imports (raised by Thailand) (p.11).
restrictions on infectious bursal disease in chicken products (raised
by Thailand) (p.12).
restrictions on chicken meat imports (raised by Costa Rica) (p.66; and
G/SPS/N/HND/3; G/SPS/GEN/347/Rev.1 and Add.1).
Tobago’s restriction on imports of pork sausages and other pork
products, fresh, cured or salted (raised by Argentina) (p.105).
import restrictions on pigmeat from Denmark (raised by the EU) (p.10).
Philippines’ requirement for third party certification for HACCP
plants (raised by Canada) (G/SPS/N/PHL/44, p.94).
restrictions on imports of dairy products because of foot and mouth
disease (raised by Argentina) (p.73).
restrictions on imports of bovine meat because of foot and mouth
disease (raised by Argentina) (p.32).
import requirements for bovine semen (raised by Canada) (p.70).
BSE-related measures (raised by Canada) (p.1; and G/SPS/N/ARG/65).
measures (raised by Canada) (G/SPS/N/URY/5/Rev.1; p.116).
on products of Dutch origin (raised by the EU) (p.29).
biotechnology policies (raised by the US) (p.63).
Questions on specific notifications received
notifications on labelling and traceability of GMOs (raised by
Argentina) (p.41; and G/SPS/N/EEC/149 and 150; G/SPS/GEN/337, 338 and
measures (raised by Canada) (G/SPS/N/BRA/74 and 75).
notification on plant and plant products (raised by Israel) (p.60; and
notification on transitional BSE measures (raised by the US) (G/SPS/N/EEC/192).