STC Number - 2

Import clearance measures and practices

Maintained by: Korea, Republic of
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Canada; Unspecified
First date raised: June 1995 G/SPS/R/2, paras. 39-40
Dates subsequently raised: May 1996 (G/SPS/R/5, paras. 4-5)
October 1996 (G/SPS/R/6, para. 54)
March 1997 (G/SPS/R/7, para. 54)
July 1997 (G/SPS/R/8, para. 77)
October 1997 (G/SPS/R/9/Rev.1, paras. 42-43)
July 2001 (G/SPS/R/22, para. 127)
Number of times subsequently raised: 6
Relevant documents: G/SPS/W/64, G/SPS/W/66, G/SPS/GN/6, G/SPS/GEN/265
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Good Offices/Consultations/Dispute Settlement; Other concerns
Status: Resolved
Solution: Consultations under Dispute Settlement initiated (WT/DS3, WT/DS41); mutually satisfactory solution found
Date reported as resolved: 01/07/2001

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 1995, the United States informed the Committee that it had held formal consultations with Korea regarding its inspection and testing methods. Korea indicated that although consultations had been productive, there was a high degree of ambiguity in the implementation of the Agreement. The parties had noted the lack of international standards in the area, and countries maintained very diverse practices. In May 1996, the United States expressed serious concern regarding Korea's import clearance measures and practices, which were not based on science, did not conform to international practice or standards, and were deliberately employed to discourage food and agricultural imports. The United States had submitted a formal request for consultations. Korea replied that these issues had been discussed extensively in a series of bilateral consultations with the United States and other countries. Korea had taken various measures to comply with the SPS Agreement, but encountered problems common to developing countries: a low level of sanitary infrastructure, lack of experience and information, and lack of relevant international standards. However, Korea would continue to adapt its measures to the SPS Agreement.

In October 1996, the United States reported on ongoing discussions with Korea. The United States expected reforms to shorten the import clearance process in Korea without additional burdensome requirements, with a period for comments by WTO Members. Korea answered that an ambitious reform programme had been launched the previous year, including the establishment of an advanced inspection and quarantine system by the end of 1996. In March 1997, the United States noted that consultations continued. Although Korea had implemented some changes, concerns remained. Korea indicated that it would continue its efforts to conform its sanitary and phytosanitary legislation to the SPS Agreement.
In July 1997, the United States reported that after five rounds of consultations under the WTO dispute settlement procedure, some Korean import clearance laws and regulations had been reformed. However, since January new problems had arisen. The United States would continue to address these concerns in bilateral consultations until clearance times in Korean ports were similar to those in similar ports. Korea took note of the US comments. In October 1997, the United States noted that although some progress had been made, there seemed to be problems with the implementation of certain changes Korea had agreed to make. The representative of Korea indicated that in his view the new import clearance system was in full compliance with the SPS Agreement, however, the US concerns would be conveyed to the competent authorities in the capital.
In July 2001, the United States indicated that bilateral consultations initiated under the dispute settlement framework resulted in a mutually satisfactory and positive outcome (G/SPS/GEN/265). The United States considered this trade concern resolved.