STC Number - 310

Measures on canned sardines

Maintained by: Brazil
Raised by: Morocco
Supported by: European Union
First date raised: October 2010 G/SPS/R/61 paras. 43-46
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/BRA/666 RD/SPS/114
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Food safety; Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT); International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Resolved
Solution: In November 2020, information was received from Morocco on the resolution of this STC (RD/SPS/114, 29 October 2020).
Date reported as resolved: 05/11/2020

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2010, the representative of Morocco stressed the importance of the fish sector for Morocco's economy, and in particular canned sardines which represented 94 per cent of their canned fish. Although Brazil's notification did not identify health concerns (G/SPS/N/BRA/666), in Morocco's view the notified measure was more restrictive of trade than necessary. The notified measure was also in contradiction with the Codex's principle of identification of sardines species, and Codex had to be referred to when adopting measures. Brazil's notified measure could seriously restrict canned sardine exports from Morocco and constituted unfair competition at the global level. Morocco also considered that the measure was in contradiction with Articles 3.5 and 12.4 of the SPS Agreement and sought reactions from other Members, especially from the European Union as a major importer of canned sardines.

The European Union supported the concerns of Morocco, and noted that Brazil's deadline for comments was 40 days and not the recommended 60 days. Brazil's requirements were not in line with the relevant Codex standards and the European Union urged Brazil to align its measures with the relevant international standards.

Brazil reported that the draft legislation had been also notified to the TBT Committee. All comments received would be duly taken into account and Brazil was willing to hold any technical meetings considered necessary by Morocco. Brazil did not understand how a measure that would be less trade restrictive than one based on an international measure could be considered to be a barrier to trade. While Brazil's list of species that could be used for canned sardines was shorter than the Codex list, according to Article 5 of the draft legislation the Brazilian list was not exhaustive.

Peru recalled that there had been a previous case between Peru and the European Union on the denomination of sardines which had also involved Codex standards.

In November 2020, the Secretariat informed that in September 2020 it had contacted all Members who had raised specific trade concerns (STCs) that had not been discussed in the previous year, to request an update on their status. In furtherance of this request, information was received from Morocco on the resolution of this STC. The Secretariat indicated that the information received had been circulated in document RD/SPS/114 of 29 October 2020, and that the SPS IMS would be updated on this basis, using the date of the November 2020 SPS Committee meeting as the date of resolution of the relevant STCs.