STC Number - 389

Chinese import regime, including quarantine and testing procedures for fish

Maintained by: China
Raised by: Norway
Supported by:
First date raised: July 2015 G/SPS/R/79 paras. 3.1-3.3
Dates subsequently raised: October 2015 (G/SPS/R/81 paras. 3.23-3.24)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: Raised orally; RD/SPS/114
Products covered: 03 Fish and crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Animal health; Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health
Status: Resolved
Solution: In October 2020, information was received from Norway 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 July 2015, Norway expressed concern about China's new import control regime for seafood from Norway, which included extensive testing for up to 40 substances. As a result, the costs for importers and exporters were increased, and products were kept in quarantine for a longer period. However, China had not notified any finding that could explain such measure. Norway highlighted that the new regulation was implemented in a non-transparent and discriminatory manner, since the increased testing only applied to Norwegian products. Furthermore, since 2011, Norway had repeatedly asked for consultations at technical level, but this request had never been addressed. Norway urged China to provide information on this new regime and on quarantine procedures in general, and on all specific measures applicable to Norwegian seafood. Norway also requested China bilateral consultations on food safety issues relating to trade in seafood.

China responded that uncompliant products had been found on several occasions and constituted a risk for consumer health. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) had issued an announcement in 2011 to further strengthen inspection and quarantine of salmons imported from all Members. China stated that these measures were not new and were based on existing Chinese laws and regulations. Moreover, the measures were addressing the threat represented by Norwegian aquatic products mentioned in several reports over the last years. China had therefore strengthened the inspection and quarantine of high risk products.

Norway reiterated its request for consultations with China at a technical level and informed the Committee that Norwegian food safety regulations were harmonised with the EU legislation, and as a result, were in compliance with EU requirements.

In October 2015, Norway raised concerns on China's new import control regime for Norwegian seafood, which included extensive testing for up to 40 substances and resulted in a prolonged quarantine period for consignments and increased costs. This regime applied not only to salmon, but to all kinds of seafood from Norway, leading to a severe reduction in trade. Norway indicated that it had not received adequate information from China, despite submitting several requests through various diplomatic channels over the last six months. In addition, Norwegian food safety authorities had not received any reports on findings that could warrant such an increase in testing. While supporting the right of Members to implement food safety measures, Norway was of the view that the changes in import control routines had not been implemented in a transparent, predictable and non-discriminatory manner. Norway requested China to provide qualified information on its import control and quarantine procedure regimes as soon as possible. In depth bilateral technical consultations with China would be necessary to address the full range of food safety issues regarding seafood trade, and Norway was willing to work with China to address this issue.

China explained that it had provided a detailed explanation and clarification during the last Committee meeting and invited Norway to recall the minutes of the last meeting. China further expressed its willingness to continue to work with Norway on this issue.

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 Norway 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.