STC Number - 324

China's requirement for registration and supervision of foreign enterprises

Maintained by: China
Raised by: India
Supported by: European Union
First date raised: October 2011 G/SPS/R/64 paras. 36-38
Dates subsequently raised: March 2012 (G/SPS/R/66 paras. 36-38)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/CHN/472
Products covered: Imported foods.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health; Other concerns
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2011, India raised concerns over China's notification on "Provisions on the Administration of the Registration of Foreign Manufacturers of Imported Foods" (G/SPS/N/CHN/472) of 19 August 2011. Foreign manufacturers of foods listed in a "Catalogue of Registration of Foreign Manufacturers of Imported Foods" would not be able to export their products to China without registration. India enquired when this catalogue would be issued and requested further information on possible registration fees and processing times.

The European Union echoed these concerns, and indicated that it had provided written comments on the notified measure, and hoped that China would take them into account. The requirements in the notified measure seemed burdensome and costly, and not necessarily in line with the requirements of the SPS Agreement.

China explained that the notified measure was not new, but would repeal the original registration requirement, established in March 2002. The registration procedures would not include fees, only guidance on how to register. The question whether there would be any other charges was still under discussion, and would be announced separately after approval. Registration renewal should be requested before expiration, and as food enterprises were categorized according to different risk levels, the application process and specific verification requirements would differ accordingly.

In March 2012, India recalled that it had submitted comments on China's notification, requesting information on the issue date of this catalogue, registration fees and processing times. Although China had indicated that the notified measure was not new, the current process was more stringent than the 2002 regulation.

While appreciating China's clarifications, the European Union supported India's call for greater clarity and additional information on the process. In particular, certain aspects of the registration process had not yet been outlined nor guidelines provided on the detailed process to be undertaken by exporters of products, with indicative timelines. The European Union urged China to provide an appropriate transitional time period for trading partners to follow this new requirement.

China explained that the notified measure was an amendment of the General Order No. 16, which was issued and implemented in 2002. The measure was notified to the WTO and comments were received and reviewed by China. The measure provided a regulatory framework similar to the original regulation and only overseas production enterprises listed in this catalogue needed to register in accordance with the requirements. The date of entry into force of the regulation was March 2012 and the official implementation would provide a sufficient transitional period. China would take into account India's comments and urged other concerned parties to raise their issues with the designated Chinese department as early as possible in order to facilitate the preparation of a detailed response.