STC Number - 128

Import requirements for cosmetics

Maintained by: China
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2002 G/SPS/R/27, paras. 13-14
Dates subsequently raised: November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28, paras. 50-51)
June 2003 (G/SPS/R/30, paras. 39-40)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: Raised orally; G/SPS/GEN/1269
Products covered: 33 Essential oils and resinoids; perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses
Status: Resolved
Date reported as resolved: 16/10/2013

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

The European Communities noted that China had imposed import restrictions on cosmetics beginning in March 2002. The new regulations prohibited cosmetics containing certain ingredients of animal origin from 18 countries having officially declared the existence of BSE. Cosmetics from these 18 countries required certification that they did not contain specified products of bovine or ovine origin. According to China's notification, the justification of the measure was to prevent introducing BSE into China. The European Communities considered that the measures were in contradiction to the SPS Agreement. China had notified its measures as emergency measures, whereas BSE had been present in those countries for many years and there was no new scientific evidence indicating a particular risk from cosmetics. In addition, the measures had no scientific basis and went far beyond the OIE standard on BSE and were disproportionate compared to the risks. The measures were also discriminatory, because they did not apply in the same manner to all countries where identical sanitary conditions prevailed. The European Communities requested that China make available the scientific justification and the risk assessment underlying the measure.
China indicated that it only prohibited the importation of cosmetics derived from bovine or ovine brains, placenta, nerves, etc. from BSE-infected countries and regions, in accordance with the OIE and WHO recommendations. China had notified its measure and requested exporting countries to provide the names and signatures of the authorities responsible for issuing the certificates ensuring that the cosmetics met the Chinese requirements. Several EC member States had proceeded accordingly and China had recognized, or was in the process of recognizing, the competent certifying authorities of those member States.
In November 2002, the European Communities reported good progress in resolving this issue. Extensive bilateral trade in cosmetics between China and the European Communities had taken place before China introduced the new provisions, and in particular the protective measures related to BSE. EC experts on BSE-related risk assessment were to visit Beijing, and both countries were hopeful that the discussions would lead to a resolution of the problem.
In June 2003, the European Communities reported that further progress was made as China had presented a list of prohibited products. China responded that it was willing to review its regulations and welcomed continued dialogue.