STC Number - 387

Chinese Taipei's import restrictions in response to the nuclear power plant accident

Maintained by: Chinese Taipei
Raised by: Japan
Supported by:
First date raised: March 2015 G/SPS/R/78para. 3.9-3.10. See also STC 354.
Dates subsequently raised: July 2015 (G/SPS/R/79para. 3.35-3.36)
October 2015 (G/SPS/R/81 paras. 3.30-3.31)
March 2016 (G/SPS/R/82 paras. 3.21-3.23)
June 2016 (G/SPS/R/83 paras. 4.28-4.29)
October 2016 (G/SPS/R/84 paras. 3.16-3.17)
March 2017 (G/SPS/R/86 paras. 3.10-3.11)
Number of times subsequently raised: 6
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Provisional Measures; Sufficiency of scientific evidence
Status: Not reported
Solution:
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In March 2015, Japan expressed its concerns over the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food exports from five Japanese prefectures after the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as well as over the draft strengthened import regulations that required a pre-test certificate issued by the Japanese Government for almost all Japanese foods from all remaining prefectures. Japan had repeatedly provided Chinese Taipei with comprehensive monitoring results to demonstrate that Japanese food was safe for human consumption. Four years had passed since the nuclear accident in 2011. In the meantime 13 Members such as Australia and Viet Nam had lifted their import restrictions. Many other Members, including the European Union, the United States and Singapore had eased their import restrictions based on sound scientific data. Japan believed that the measures maintained by Chinese Taipei were not based on relevant international standards and were more trade-restrictive than required. Japan therefore requested that Chinese Taipei lift the import ban on the five prefectures and withdraw the draft strengthened import regulations notified to the SPS Committee last November.

Chinese Taipei noted that, although all the inspected batches proceeding from Japan were in compliance with Chinese Taipei's regulation, consumer protection groups and the public were still concerned about the safety of food imported from Japan. The notified draft control measure requiring that food products imported from Japan be accompanied by pre-export radiation test certificates and certificates of origin was developed as a consequence of the radioactive contaminated water leak accident from Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2013. Chinese Taipei expressed its willingness to continue bilateral talks and looked forward to finding a mutual satisfactory solution on this matter.

In July 2015, Japan reiterated its concerns over the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food exports from five Japanese prefectures after the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as well as over the strengthened import restrictions imposed since 15 May 2015. According to information published by Chinese Taipei, none of the more than 70,000 samples of Japanese food products tested had exceeded Chinese Taipei's limit levels of radioactive cesium, which seemed to confirm the appropriateness of Japan's measures taken after the incident. Japan also noted that Chinese Taipei's import restrictions were not based on science, nor based on the relevant international standards, and were more trade restrictive than required. Japan requested that Chinese Taipei complete its risk assessment and immediately remove its measures. Japan also expressed hope that bilateral consultations would help find a mutually acceptable solution.

Chinese Taipei confirmed the implementation of control measures consisting in the temporary suspension of inspection applications for food produced in the Fukushima and the other four nearby prefectures since March 2011. However, in March 2015 food products from the restricted prefectures had entered the Chinese Taipei market using false labelling. Consequently, Chinese Taipei had implemented control measures requiring certificates of origin and, for specific food products and prefectures, radioactive examination reports. Chinese Taipei also noted concerns over the continuous leakage of radioactive contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear power plant since 2013. Chinese Taipei reiterated its commitment to bilateral efforts to find a solution to this matter.

In October 2015, Japan reiterated its concerns over the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food from five Japanese prefectures after the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as well as over the strengthened import restrictions imposed since 15 May 2015. Japan stressed that although an incident where some Japanese food products had been imported with false labelling was unfortunate, it should be clearly distinguished from the import ban. Japan noted that Chinese Taipei's import restrictions were not based on scientific evidence. Japan also questioned the extent to which Japan's treatment of radioactive contaminated water was relevant to food safety in this situation. With regard to alleged consumer concerns in Chinese Taipei about Japanese food safety, Japan noted that there had been a steady increase in food imports from Japan by Chinese Taipei over the past three years. Japan requested that Chinese Taipei complete its risk assessment and immediately remove its measures, even if on a step-by-step basis. Japan also expressed hope that bilateral consultations would result in a mutually acceptable solution.

Chinese Taipei confirmed the continued temporary suspension of inspection applications for food produced in the Fukushima and four other nearby prefectures since March 2011. According to information published by Japan, food products were still found to have radioactive residues and, in July 2015, several cases had been confirmed to have levels exceeding the tolerance levels proposed by Japan. Chinese Taipei reiterated its commitment to bilateral efforts to find a solution to this matter.

In March 2016, Japan reiterated its concerns over the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food from five Japanese prefectures after the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Japan reported that, despite receiving what it regarded as a positive response from Chinese Taipei affirming its commitment to bilateral efforts, as well as high-level leadership meetings held on the margins of the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November 2015, no progress had been made in resolving the issue. Japan noted that the ban was not scientifically justifiable as radioactive residues exceeding standard limits were only found in certain types of food, mostly wild mushrooms and game meat. Japan encouraged Chinese Taipei to move the process forward to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Chinese Taipei described the measures in place and stated that they were necessary to address public health concerns, especially given the fact that contaminated water and materials had not been entirely cleaned and contaminated water continued to leak from the plant site. According to recent trade data, consumers were regaining confidence in Japanese products. Chinese Taipei reported that it had set up a joint working group with the Japanese Government and looked forward to cooperating closely with Japan under this joint-working mechanism.

Japan questioned the relevancy of contaminated water and public concern on food safety. Data from various sources showed a growing demand for Japanese food. Japan thanked other Members who had already lifted or eased their import restrictions.

In June 2016, Japan reiterated its concerns regarding the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food from five Japanese prefectures in response to the nuclear power plant accident. Japan noted that the ban was not scientifically justifiable as radioactive residues exceeding the regulatory limits were only found in certain types of food. In addition, no residues exceeding the regulatory limits had been found at Chinese Taipei's border, out of the more than 80,000 samples tested to date. Japan further observed that a press release from the authorities of Chinese Taipei had indicated that there was neither a plan nor a timetable to relax the import restrictions on food products from Japan. Japan underscored that import restrictions should be consistent with the SPS Agreement and encouraged further cooperation in addressing this issue.

Chinese Taipei reiterated that its temporary import ban and radioactive pre-test certificate requirements were necessary to protect public health, especially given the fact that contaminated water and materials had not been entirely cleaned as yet. Chinese Taipei indicated that since the nuclear power plant incident, it had requested further information from Japan, including on its surveillance results and control measures, in order to undertake an evaluation. As a result of the credible control measures implemented by the competent authority of Chinese Taipei, consumers were regaining confidence in the safety of Japanese food products, as demonstrated by increased trade figures. Chinese Taipei indicated its commitment to monitor the effectiveness of Japan's radionuclide management system and ensure a comprehensive evaluation of its relevant control measures. Chinese Taipei looked forward to further cooperating with Japan on this issue.

In October 2016, Japan reiterated its concerns regarding the import ban imposed by Chinese Taipei on food from five Japanese prefectures in response to the nuclear power plant accident. The ban was not scientifically justifiable as radioactive residues exceeding the regulatory limits were only found in certain types of food. Japan recognized Chinese Taipei's commitment to bilateral discussions and expressed its willingness to continue cooperating with Chinese Taipei towards a satisfactory solution.

Chinese Taipei recalled that a temporary suspension of inspection applications for food imported from the Fukushima and other four nearby prefectures was in place since March 2011. Food from other prefectures was inspected for radionuclide residues at port of entry on a batch-by-batch basis. In May 2015, Chinese Taipei amended its measures to require radioactive examination reports for specific food products from several prefectures and adopted flexible and pragmatic methods to allow safe trade of Japanese food products. Chinese Taipei remained concerned with radionuclide contaminated water and materials, which continued to leak from the plant site. Chinese Taipei highlighted that the measures implemented, including import restrictions and pre-test certificates, were necessary to address public health concerns. Increased trade figures demonstrated that consumers were regaining confidence in the safety of Japanese food products. Chinese Taipei reiterated its commitment to continue monitoring the effectiveness of Japan's radionuclide management system and ensure a comprehensive evaluation of its relevant surveillance and control measures. Chinese Taipei had appointed an inter-ministerial team to work on this issue, including risk communication, and looked forward to further cooperating with Japan.

In March 2017, Japan again raised its concern regarding Chinese Taipei's import ban on food from five Japanese prefectures in response to the nuclear power plant accident. Japan recognized Chinese Taipei's efforts since August 2016, including on-site visits to farms and food processing plants as well as to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Chinese Taipei had considered lifting the ban but was still in the process of informing the public. In November 2016, it had held public hearings which had been allegedly held in a hasty manner. Additional hearings that had been scheduled to take place before January 2017 had been delayed. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei had introduced new labelling requirements after finding that certain food products contained soy sauce from the five prefectures subject to the import ban, in spite of testing negative for radionuclide residues and being regularly imported by Chinese Taipei. Japan urged Chinese Taipei to adopt measures that were consistent with the WTO Agreements.

Chinese Taipei recalled that it had reviewed its current measures following its cross ministerial expert delegation visit to Japan in August 2016. Chinese Taipei referred to previous statements and reiterated its willingness to cooperate with Japan to solve this issue bilaterally.