STC Number - 296

SPS notification practices

Maintained by: China
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2010 G/SPS/R/59, paras. 15-16
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally.
Products covered: 04 Dairy produce; birds' eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included; 21 Miscellaneous edible preparations; 30 Pharmaceutical products
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; Other concerns; Transparency
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2010, the European Union expressed concerns over China's SPS notification practices. On 1 June 2009, China's new Food Safety Law had entered into force. This new legislation involved many new national food safety measures, creating a framework food safety legislation with the objective of assuring high levels of health protection. While the European Union welcomed the objectives of the legislation, it was concerned that the rapid development of these measures meant that trading partners were not informed of the new legislation before adoption or did not have adequate time to comment prior to enforcement. Trading partners had been notified only after the adoption of the new Food Safety Law even though the legislation included, for example, new measures on dairy products, additives, contaminants, veterinary medicines, and commodities such as honey. China had submitted almost 100 SPS notifications on food additives in a few days, providing only a 15 days deadline for comments. None of the notifications included references to the original text. China had not agreed to requests to extend the period for comments, even to the normally recommended 60-day period, despite the time required for reviewing such a large volume of technical standards. The European Union requested that China clarify its procedure and indicate how it would ensure its SPS notification practices gave reasonable time frames for trading partners to comment and for China to take these comments into serious consideration.
China explained that the notification of a large number of national standards in a short time period was the result of the adoption of a new Food Safety Law. Codex and other international standards had been fully considered in the development of the new measures, and as a result China believed that trade effects should be minimal. Members were welcomed to continue to make comments, and China would take into account the comments received even after the end of the comment period before the publication of standards and in future modifications. China was starting to include hyperlinks in the notifications, as recommended, but in all cases the Enquiry Point could provide full texts upon request. China would inform its standard-setting agencies about the EU comments for future improvements in the process.