Los Miembros de la OMC, reunidos los días 10 y 11 de julio como el Comité encargado de la inocuidad de los alimentos, la sanidad animal y la preservación de los vegetales, escucharon preocupaciones acerca de los nuevos límites de la UE propuestos para el cadmio en el cacao cacao y el chocolate y aceptaron a varias organizaciones más en calidad de observadoras, tres de ellas de África.

ESTA NOTICIA tiene como finalidad ayudar al público a comprender los nuevos acontecimientos de la OMC. Si bien se ha hecho todo lo posible para asegurar que el contenido de la información sea exacto, ésta se entiende sin perjuicio de las posiciones de los gobiernos Miembros.

La posición oficial figura en las actas de las reuniones.

> medidas sanitarias y fitosanitarias
> noticias sobre las MSF


sobre las “tres hermanas” de las MSF — los organismos internacionales de normalización:
> Codex Alimentarius
> Organización Mundial de Sanidad Animal
> Convención Internacional de Protección Fitosanitaria

El Comité de Medidas Sanitarias y Fitosanitarias (MS) también comprobó el acercamiento de posiciones sobre la propuesta para formalizar un mecanismo de conversaciones para resolver diferencias con ayuda de la Presidencia.

Sin embargo, quedan algunas cuestiones difíciles por resolver y el Comité acordó que prolongaría la reflexión durante el verano antes de considerar un nuevo proyecto de documento en la próxima reunión de octubre.

El Comité debatió cinco nuevas preocupaciones comerciales específicas y nueve que ya se habían planteado anteriormente.

Las nuevas preocupaciones planteadas son:  por parte de la Argentina, las restricciones del Japón relacionadas con la fiebre aftosa y el acceso del limón fresco al mercado de los Estados Unidos;  por parte de la UE, sobre las restricciones debidas al virus de Schmallenberg;  y por parte de la India, los límites máximos de residuos establecidos por el Taipei Chino para el café y las pruebas de residuos de plaguicidas de la UE.  Algunas de las cuestiones se debatieron bilateralmente antes de la reunión y se retiraron del orden del día.  Por otra parte, Costa Rica y los Estados Unidos informaron que habían resuelto su preocupación comercial relativa a la normativa de los Estados Unidos sobre flores ornamentales.

Además, los Miembros han seguido trabajando en consultas informales para definir cuáles son las "normas del sector privado".

Algunos detalles

The SPS Committee’s main task is to monitor how countries are implementing food safety and animal and plant health measures under the WTO Agreement, and to discuss issues arising from that, including the work of recognized international standards-setting bodies. Its deliberations range from comments on specific measures to broader principles.

Cadmium in cocoa
(For other trade issues, see “PS” below)

A number of countries complained that the EU’s recent decision to amend its regulation on maximum levels of cadmium allowed in chocolate, milk chocolate and cocoa powder threatens their exports and the livelihoods of smallholder cocoa farmers. The EU said it is still preparing the new rules and pledged to listen to all the concerns.

The complaint, first raised in October 2011, is about proposed maximum levels of cadmium in cocoa products as a contribution to limiting the amount of cadmium consumers take in from all foods.
The concern is detailed in a paper from Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru (soon to be circulated as G/SPS/GEN/1173). Also speaking in support were Guatemala, Dominican Rep, Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

They urged the EU to clarify the contribution of different types of chocolate to consumers’ weekly or monthly cadmium intake, to work with scientific experts to establish an agreed method for setting maximum permitted levels, and to research and examine more data on the subject, to comply with the SPS Agreement’s requirements and to be consistent in setting its standards for various products.

They also referred to recommendations from a workshop on cadmium in cocoa and cocoa products held at the London headquarters of the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO, and called for the EU to give producers at least five years to adjust.

The EU informed members about latest developments. It said the focus of the new regulations is on products that do not currently have maximum limits, such as cocoa products and baby food. It said a number of producers have responded to its request for data, which it is now examining.

The new regulation will go through several stages of consultations and will take into account the different impacts of various cocoa products, the EU said — for example that dark chocolate, with a higher cocoa content tends to be consumed in small quantities by adults, while children prefer milk chocolate, with less cocoa but in higher quantities.

The EU is listening to concerns, particularly about the impact on small farmers, and is planning a phase-in period to allow producers to adjust, it said.

Although the issue was raised under the “other business” agenda item — normally used to raise new issues without any lengthy discussion — the number of comments and the EU’s explanation meant it was discussed in more detail than some of the other trade concerns.


The committee agreed to accept the African Union (AU), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS/CEEAC), and Gulf Co-operation Council Standardization Organization (GSO) as observers.

The four are accepted “ad hoc”, their observer status confirmed for each meeting, as has been the case since 2009. This is because members are still considering whether additional  criteria for accepting new observers permanently are needed. No decisions were made in this meeting on applications from a number of other organizations, including those that deal with particular commodities, and some with broader scientific or environmental roles.

In March 1995, the SPS Committee accepted its “three sisters” as observers — the three recognized international standards-setting bodies for SPS: Codex Alimentarius for food safety, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

Other “regular” observers are: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Before this meeting, the ad hoc observers were: the African Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organismo Internacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (OIRSA), which works among some Latin American countries, and Latin American Economic System (SELA), Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC) , West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC).

Making these organizations observers also ties in with technical assistance they receive from some developed countries on sanitary and phytosanitary issues. Requests from seven other organizations are pending. (More information in Secretariat document G/SPS/GEN/1157)


Ad hoc mediation
Earlier in the week, delegations narrowed some of their differences in informal consultations on enhancing procedures for the chairperson to help broker solutions to problems they have with each other’s measures and avoid bringing legal disputes against each other.

This was achieved by the then chairperson, Ms Miriam Chaves of Argentina, going through five key issues instead of trying to amend the latest draft:

  • whether the procedure would be compulsory or voluntary
  • transparency and confidentiality
  • the role of the mediator or “facilitator”
  • timetables for the stages of the procedure
  • the relationship between this SPS procedure and other proposals in the Doha Round talks, particularly on non-tariff barriers in the negotiations on non-agricultural market access (NAMA)

She reported through her successor that members were approaching consensus on some points such as the need for at least some basic information to be reported to the committee, that the mediator’s role would be principally to help the two sides discuss the problem, and that a non-binding target of six months could be set for completing the consultations.

Among the unresolved issues are how the procedure should relate to the separate Doha Round talks on non-agricultural market access, she said.

The possibility of ad hoc mediation by the chairperson or anyone else accepted by the countries concerned is included in Art.12.2 of the SPS Agreement (see “magic number”).


Chairperson: Ms Maria Albarece of the Philippines (elected at the start of the meeting to replace Ms Miriam Chaves of Argentina)


Next meetings

These dates (with informal meetings on other days in the week) could still be changed:


  • 17–18 October 2012


  • week of 18 March
  • week of 24 June
  • week of 7 October




These are some of the trade issues or concerns discussed or information supplied.

Information from members

  • Australia — reform of Australia’s biosecurity system including release of draft biosecurity legislation for comments
  • Australia — plan for retiring the Australian quarantine and inspection service (AQIS) brand
  • Botswana — FMD status and regaining EU market access
  • Japan — response to the nuclear plant accident
  • Mexico — avian influenza

Specific trade concerns

Document (G/SPS/GEN/204/Rev.12)

New issues

  • Japan’s restrictions related to foot and mouth disease — concerns of Argentina
  • Trade restrictive measures due to the Schmallenberg virus — concerns of the EU
  • Chinese Taipei’s maximum residue levels (MRLs) for roasted and powdered coffee — concerns of India
  • European Union’s modification of testing of residues of pesticides — concerns of India
  • United States’ reopening of the fresh lemon market from the north east region of Argentina (NOA) — concerns of Argentina

Issues previously raised
(Numbers are “specific trade concerns” numbers in the database

  • US default MRLs, limits of determination or limits of quantification on basmati rice — concerns of India (no. 328)
  • Viet Nam’s ban on offals — concerns of the European Union and the United States (no. 314)
  • South Africa’s import restrictions on fresh pork meat — concerns of Brazil (no. 287)
  • EU maximum residue levels of pesticides — concerns of India (no. 306)
  • China’s quarantine and testing procedures for salmon — concerns of Norway (no. 319)
  • US failure to recognize South Patagonia as FMD-free and to import beef from north of the 42nd parallel — concerns of Argentina (no. 318)
  • Import restrictions due to BSE — concerns of the European Union (no. 193)
  • Indonesia’s restrictions on market access for horticultural products — concerns of New Zealand
  • EU’s Novel Foods Regulation — concerns of Peru (No. 238)


Consideration of specific notifications received

  • (none)

Information on resolution of issues

  • Costa Rica — US’s prohibition of ornamental plants larger than 18 inches (no. 292)

El número mágico de esta reunión es


Párrafo 2 del artículo 12 del Acuerdo MS: “El Comité fomentará y facilitará la celebración entre los Miembros de consultas o negociaciones ad hoc sobre cuestiones sanitarias o fitosanitarias concretas….”


Dicho llanamente 

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