STC Number - 397

India's amendment to its import policy conditions for apples; Restriction to Nhava Sheva port

Maintained by: India
Raised by: Chile; New Zealand
Supported by: European Union; United States of America
First date raised: October 2015 G/SPS/R/81 paras. 3.2-3.6
Dates subsequently raised: March 2016 (G/SPS/R/82 paras. 3.69-3.72)
October 2016 (G/SPS/R/84 paras. 3.49-3.51)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: Raised orally; RD/SPS/114
Products covered: 080810 - Apples
Primary subject keyword: Other concerns
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Risk assessment
Status: Resolved
Solution: In October 2020, information was received from Chile and New Zealand 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 2015, New Zealand raised concerns regarding India's amendment to its import policy that limited the entry of apple imports to the Nhava Sheva Port of Mumbai, with all other ports consequently closed. Historically, New Zealand's apple exports had been able to enter India through six ports and as result, the process of restricting entry to only one port had caused congestion. New Zealand further observed that this measure had neither been notified to the WTO nor was justified and was in breach of Articles 5 and 7 of the SPS Agreement. While New Zealand thanked India for the bilateral discussions to date, it also urged India to notify its amended measure to the WTO and to provide the rationale for its decision to limit port access, as well as the time-frame for this measure.

Chile shared New Zealand's concerns and further requested India to provide the reasoning and scientific basis for only allowing apple imports from a single port. In addition, Chile requested an explanation of the rationale regarding: the absence of a notification to the WTO, in conformity with Article 7 and Annex B; compliance with Article 8 and Annex C; and the justification for applying an emergency measure in relation to Articles 5.4 and 5.5 of the SPS Agreement.

The United States and the European Union supported this concern, emphasizing the need for clarification of the objective of the measure and urged India to notify the measure immediately. The United States noted that given the urgency of the announcement and the restrictiveness of the measure, it was left to speculate that the measure had been implemented due to an SPS concern. The United States was concerned that the single port in India could not meet the storage and infrastructure requirements required to handle the volume of US apple exports to India expected this year. Similarly, the European Union indicated concerns about the potential increase in transportation costs. The United States requested that India provide a cogent explanation of its reasons consistent with its WTO obligations for resorting to this action.

India had indicated at the beginning of the meeting, when the agenda was adopted, that it would not respond to this concern, as it was not an SPS-related issue. After Members expressed their concerns, India reiterated that the measure in question was not an SPS measure and as such, could not be in violation of the SPS Agreement. India emphasized that the agricultural nature of the products covered did not automatically make the measure itself an SPS measure, as defined in Annex A of the SPS Agreement.

Chile noted that in situation such as this one, a Member could place on record its view that a measure on which a specific trade concern had been raised was not covered by the SPS Agreement. It was not necessary to raise this before the adoption of the agenda. Chile further indicated that a response such as India's was legitimate and asked that the response be included in the record. In addition, Chile queried whether the measure would fall under Import Licensing or another agreement.

In March 2016, the United States thanked India for rescinding its port restrictions on apples and welcomed the removal of the measure. The United States also expressed appreciation for India's efforts to ensure the immediate notification of any such future actions of a similar nature to the relevant WTO committee.

New Zealand echoed the United States' sentiments and thanked India for opening the ports. However, New Zealand understood that two out of the original six ports remained closed. If that was indeed the case, New Zealand encouraged India to also allow apples to be imported through those ports.

The European Union thanked India for reopening the ports and looked forward to the opening of the other ports, as well as receiving any future notifications from India on similar measures.

India stated that as far as it was concerned, the issue was not an SPS issue and therefore did not accept it being listed as a resolved issue in this Committee.

In October 2016, New Zealand recalled that this concern had been raised in October 2015 following India's amendment to its import policy. This policy limited the entry of imported apples into India to one port instead of six. New Zealand explained that in January 2016, India had amended its import policy conditions for apples and re-allowed entry into most of its ports. However, two ports were still not permitted to receive apple shipments, including Tuticorin which was the third most used port previous to the amendment. New Zealand queried as to why the two ports remained closed and urged India to allow apples to be imported through them. New Zealand looked forward to further bilateral discussion on this issue in order to pave the way toward a solution.

The United States echoed New Zealand's concern and noted that it had expressed it in this and other WTO bodies.

India took note of the concern raised by New Zealand and indicated that the issue was currently being examined in consultations with the administrative ministry and authorities. India expressed its appreciation for the bilateral exchanges with New Zealand and looked forward to continued engagement 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 Chile and New Zealand 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.