SANITARY & PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES: INFORMATION

Members’ transparency toolkit

Transparency is a core principle in the WTO. According to Article 7 of the SPS Agreement, members shall notify changes in their sanitary or phytosanitary measures and shall provide information on their sanitary or phytosanitary measures in accordance with the provisions of Annex B. This page contains all the relevant information for members’ transparency work in SPS.

See also

The following links contain additional relevant information:

  • Technical assistance/training: contains information on WTO’s trade-related technical assistance (TRTA) activities aimed at helping developing countries build their trade capacity so that they can participate more effectively in global trade.
  • WTO training courses: provides information on technical assistance and training courses within the current biannual plan, designed in line with the Progressive Learning Strategy (PLS), to promote higher levels of learning and ensure the development of participants' autonomy.
  • WTO E-Campus: provides access to the WTO E-Learning Technical Assistance program on the Multilateral Trading System.
  • Building trade capacity: describes the efforts made by WTO to meet the special needs of developing countries by building “trade capacity” to enable them to trade more effectively and benefit from the multilateral trading system.

Transparency obligations

The SPS Agreement establishes the following four transparency obligations that must be fulfilled by members:

transparency obligations

Source: Practical Manual for SPS National Notification Authorities and SPS National Enquiry Points, 2018.

More detailed information on transparency is available in the SPS Agreement, as well as in the Recommended procedures for implementing the transparency obligations of the SPS Agreement (Article 7).

An annual report of the level of implementation of SPS transparency provisions is available in document series G/SPS/GEN/804.

How to submit SPS notifications – SPS Notification Submission System (SPS NSS)

The most efficient way to submit SPS notifications is through the SPS Notification Submission System (SPS NSS). The SPS NSS is an online, password-protected system that allows members to fill in all types of notification templates, improve national coordination with regulatory agencies, provide more accurate and complete data, prepare notification models to increase efficiency and keep track of all notifications submitted.
Detailed information on how to submit notifications through the SPS NSS is available in the SPS NSS audio guide (in English only).
Credentials and training on the SPS NSS can be requested by writing to spscommittee@wto.org .
Alternatively, members can also submit notifications by email to the Central Registry of Notifications (CRN) at crn@wto.org. Further information and the notification templates can be found in the Recommended Transparency Procedure page.

Types of notifications

Members shall notify each other of their sanitary or phytosanitary regulations, using the following templates, depending on the circumstances. The latest versions of all the templates can be filled in through the SPS Notification Submission System (see above, How to submit SPS notifications).

Members are required to notify all regulations the content of which is “not substantially the same as the content of an international standard, guideline or recommendation”, if such regulations are expected to have a significant effect on trade of other members. Members are encouraged to notify all regulations that are based on, conform to, or are substantially the same as an international standard, guideline or recommendation, if they are expected to have a significant effect on trade of other members.

A notification should be made well before the entry into force of the relevant measure, except when urgent problems of health protection arise or threaten to arise for the member concerned. Any regulation brought into force in urgent circumstances is required to be notified immediately and a rationale for the urgent action provided.

In addition to their original notifications, members can also provide supplementary information in three different forms:

to regular or emergency notifications: Members should notify changes in the status of a notified SPS regulation. For instance, a member may wish to indicate on the addendum if the final regulation has been substantially modified from the notified proposal. An addendum is thus used to provide additional information or changes to an original notification. The issuance of an addendum allows members to track the status of an SPS regulation via its unique notification number.

to regular and emergency notifications: Members should inform the Secretariat of any error(s) contained in their original notification. The Secretariat will issue a corrigendum accordingly.

to regular and emergency notifications: Revisions should be submitted, for example, if a notified draft regulation was substantially redrafted or if a notification contained a large number of errors. A revision is used to replace an existing notification.

There are other types of notifications that members can submit to provide information on other topics:

Equivalence is defined to be the state wherein SPS measures applied in an exporting member, though different from the measures applied in an importing member, achieve the importing member’s appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection. In accordance with the Decision on Equivalence (G/SPS/19/Rev.2), a member which has made a determination recognizing the equivalence of SPS measures of another member shall notify other members through the Secretariat of the measure(s) recognized to be equivalent and of the products affected by this recognition. Notification should also be made of significant variations to existing equivalence arrangements, including their suspension or rescission.

Any member possessing an unofficial translation of a document relating to a notification should inform the notifying member of the existence of the unofficial translation and should submit to the Secretariat a supplement to the original notification submitted by a member.

In accordance with the Decision on Special and Differential Treatment (G/SPS/33/Rev.1), when an importing member decides on whether and how special and differential treatment may be provided in response to a specific request, that member should inform the SPS Committee. The information should be submitted as an addendum to the original notification concerning the measure.

Further information on the notifications format and on how to fill in the templates is available in the Recommended procedures for implementing the transparency obligations of the SPS Agreement (Article 7), the Practical Manual for SPS National Notification Authorities and SPS National Enquiry Points, and the Technical cooperation handbook on SPS notification requirements.

National notification authorities (NNA) and national enquiry points (NEP)

In accordance with paragraph 10 of Annex B of the SPS Agreement, members are obliged to designate “a single central government authority” as responsible for the implementation at the national level of the provisions concerning notification procedures: the national notification authority (NNA). Paragraph 3 of Annex B of the SPS Agreement indicates that each member “shall ensure that one enquiry point exists” which is responsible for the provision of answers to all reasonable questions as well as the provision of relevant documents: the national enquiry point (NEP).

In order for members to be able to contact the NNAs and NEPs of their stakeholders, it is important to inform the Secretariat of any designation, or change, of these organisms. Contact information is available through the SPS Information Management System and the ePing alert system.

Transparency-related activities

Members can request specific training on transparency-related topics by sending an email to spscommittee@wto.org.
The SPS Committee has undertaken a number of thematic workshops related to transparency.

For detailed information on other relevant activities, please check Event, workshops and training.