Information on how to use the SPS Information Management System

Revision 1.2
  1. What kind of information is available in the SPS Information Management System?
  2. How does the system relate to WTO's Documents Online facility and other relevant SPS sources on the Internet?
  3. What is the information contained in the SPS IMS?
  4. What are the precise functions related to "SPS Notifications"?
  5. What are the functions related to "specific trade concerns" raised in the SPS Committee?
  6. What are the functions related to "other SPS documents"?
  7. What are the functions related to Enquiry Points/Notification Authorities/Membership in international organizations?
  8. How can I get more information on the definitions of geographic/economic groups used and where can I see a list of the keywords used?
  9. What do I do if I am not sure about the precise symbol of a document I am searching for? How does the free text search work?
  10. Is it possible to access other relevant websites from the SPS IMS?
  1. What kind of information is available in the SPS Information Management System?
  • The SPS Information Management System (SPS IMS) is a comprehensive source for searching and reporting on WTO's SPS-related information. Through the system, it is possible to track SPS notifications, specific trade concerns raised in the SPS Committee and SPS documents circulated as well as national SPS enquiry points and notification authorities. The internal version of the system assists the Secretariat in producing official documents, such as SPS notifications, and in undertaking faster and more comprehensive analyses and reporting on SPS matters. (You will see that the functions under "creation" in the left-hand side menu are currently only accessible to the WTO Secretariat).
     
  • The public version of the system is expected to facilitate the work of Member governments and other interested parties in tracking developments in the SPS area. For example, the system allows for detailed searching and reporting on notifications, specific trade concerns and SPS-related documents based on a variety of criteria such as geographic groupings, products codes, comment periods, keywords, etc.
     
  • The interface is in English, French and Spanish. The user can choose the interface language by clicking on the language desired on the top right corner of the screen. The data contained in the system is also mostly trilingual. Work is on-going to make the complete set of data available in three languages.
     
  • The public version of the SPS IMS was launched in October 2007. A new release with some enhancements was installed in March 2008.
     

 Top

  1. How does the system relate to WTO's Documents Online facility and other relevant SPS sources on the Internet?
  • The system builds upon information available through the WTO's Documents Online system and the Central Registy of Notifications (CRN) and allows for more advanced searching and reporting facilities. In this context, the establishment of the system has enhanced harmonization and consistency among different data sources at the WTO while avoiding redundant data entry.
     
  • The FAO's International Portal on Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health (http://www.ipfsaph.org), which is a comprehensive access point on SPS-related official information from national and international sources, including the WTO, will be able to access with more ease up-to-date and detailed information from the WTO.
     

Top

  1. What is the information contained in the SPS IMS?
     
  • The contents of the system include the following:
     
    1. Information contained in SPS Notifications (with links to WTO's Documents Online).
    2. List of all SPS-related documents issued by the WTO (with links to WTO's Documents Online).
    3. Specific Trade Concerns raised in the SPS Committee.
    4. SPS National Enquiry Points and Notification Authorities.
    5. Membership of the WTO and the international standard-setting bodies referenced in the SPS Agreement (Codex, OIE, IPPC).

Top

  1. What are the precise functions related to SPS Notifications?
     
  • As of the end of August 2007, more than 8200 notifications had been submitted to the WTO. (If you are not already familiar with SPS Notifications, please see the Committee's Recommended Procedures for Implementing the Transparency Obligations of the SPS Agreement (G/SPS/7/Rev.2)).
     
  • Upon reception of a new notification by the WTO's Central Registry of Notifications (CRN), the CRN catalogues the notification, including information on dates, notifying Member, products affected (HS codes) and relevant keywords. This triggers a new entry in the SPS IMS. Then, the SPS Secretariat enters the remaining information contained in the notification into the system and uses the system to produce the official notification in word in the appropriate format. At the same time, the data entered becomes fully searchable.
     
  • For SPS notifications dating back to 1 June 2007, the system includes all information contained in all formats of notifications. For the period until 1 June 2007, the system contains partial information on notifications imported from the Central Registry of Notifications. This includes information on the following: document symbol, submitting Member, dates of communication/receipt/distribution, products affected (HS codes), countries/regions affected, notification keywords and Documents Online links.
     
  • The user can search notifications by inter alia: geographic/economic groupings, types of notifications, products affected, countries/regions affected, stated objectives, relevant international standards, comments periods, keywords, etc. and export the results to Excel. At the same time, the user can choose to prepare a "report" which shows certain fields from notifications found according to certain search criteria and export this report to Excel.

    Example 1. What are regular notifications from "Asia" affecting "Meat products (HS code 02)" which have been issued since "1 August 2007"?    What is the length of the comment period provided in these notifications? How can I prepare a report in Excel which shows the notifying Member(s), the affected products, the proposed date of entry into force of the notified measures and the deadline for comments?
     Click on "search regular notifications", select the specific criteria mentioned above from the interface, click on "search". The results page shows the notifications fitting the criteria. It also shows the number of days provided for the comment period (calculated as the difference between the final date for comments and the date of distribution). For more detailed information on one of the specific notifications, click on its symbol on the left-hand side. To see the official notification in Word, click on the Documents Online link on the right-hand side. For a "report", go to "custom reporting" on the left-hand side menu. Under tab a, select the document type, i.e. regular notification and click on Next. Under tab b, select the search criteria and click on Next. Then under tab c, select the specific fields which you would like to see in the "report" and click on Next. Under tab d, select the order in which you would like to see these fields and click on Next. Under tab e, you will get the desired report, which you can export to Excel by clicking on the "Export to Excel" button at the bottom right corner of the screen.

    Example 2. What are the notifications related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
    The CRN has been assigning keywords to notifications since 1995. Now it is possible to use these keywords (about 62) to search notifications. Click on "search notifications", select "genetically modified organisms" from the drop-down list of notification keywords and click on "search".
     

  • Currently, only the original version of notifications is included in the system. Therefore, while fields independent of language (non-translatable fields) can be searched for (such as dates, notifying Members, groups of Members, product codes, keywords), the description of content of notifications is searchable only in the original language. Preparations are underway to incorporate translations of notifications into the system. In the meantime, for comprehensive "free text" searches in all three languages under "description of content" of notifications, it is better to use the WTO's Documents Online Facility.
     
  • The user can also generate a notifications summary report in Word for a desired time-period. For example, to generate a summary of all notifications circulated in February 2008, go to "predefined reports" on the left-hand side menu, click on "notifications summary". Then select 1 February and 29 February for begin and end dates of the report and click on generate. You will see a list of all notifications circulated with some basic information. (This report is very similar to the monthly list of notifications circulated by the Secretariat). For the moment, the system stores the full content of notifications only in the original language. Therefore, some of the fields will be missing in the non-original languages. The Secretariat is currently working on incorporating translation of notifications into the system. Watch this space for an update.
     

Top

  1. What are the functions related to specific trade concerns?
     
  • The SPS Committee is the forum where Members raise specific trade concerns. As of September 2007, more than 250 specific trade concerns had been raised in the Committee.
     
  • All these specific trade concerns are now recorded in English, French and Spanish in the SPS IMS, including information on Members raising/maintaining/supporting a concern, dates raised, relevant HS codes, subject keywords and whether it was resolved.
     
  • The user can search specific trade concerns according to various criteria.

    Example 1. How many specific trade concerns relate to fruits (HS Code 08)? I would like to have a list in Excel.
    Go to "search specific trade concerns", on the interface, under Product (HS Codes), select HS Code 08 from the dropdown menu, click on search. You will see all specific trade concerns relating to fruits. Click on Export to Excel to have your results in Excel.

    Example 2. How many specific concerns have been resolved?
    Go to "search specific trade concerns" on the interface, under status select "resolved" from drop-down menu and click on search.
     
  • The data contained in the SPS IMS is also used to generate the Secretariat's annual report on specific trade concerns.

Top

  1. What are the functions related to "other SPS documents"?
     
  • As of August 2007, more than 1600 SPS-related documents had been issued.
     
  • The system includes basic information on all these documents (document symbol, submitting entity, date of distribution, title, subject keyword, and link to actual document through Documents Online). Part of the information is being imported from Documents Online and the rest is entered by the SPS team (i.e. submitting entity and subject keywords).
     
  • The user can search for and report on SPS-related documents in a variety of ways.

    Example: Which documents related to "regionalization" have been submitted to the Committee by the OIE? I would like to prepare a "report" in Excel which lists all these documents sorted by the date of distribution.
    Go to "search other SPS documents"; on the interface, under "submitting observer organization", select the "OIE"; click on search to get the results. To order the documents by date of distribution, click on the column header on search results. For a report, go to "custom reporting- other SPS documents", under tab a, select other SPS documents and click on Next, under tab b, select the search criteria and click on Next, under tab c select the fields you wish to see in the report and click on Next and under tab d, select their order. Under tab e, you will get the desired report. Click on "export to excel" to see your results in Excel.
     
  • Please note that "restricted" WTO documents are not available through the public version of the SPS IMS until they are "derestricted". These are mainly the reports of Committee meetings held three times a year, which get derestricted 45 days after their circulation.
     
  • Work in progress!
    Data entry on more than 1500 historical records up until July 2007 has just been finished. Currently, some data verification is being done on the subject keywords assigned to these. Check this space to get an update
     

Top

  1. What are the functions related to Enquiry Points/Notification Authorities/Membership in international organizations?
     
  • All WTO Members are under an obligation to designate an SPS notification authority and an enquiry point. The contact information of these entities changes frequently.
     
  • The SPS IMS keeps track of the contact information for Enquiry Points and Notification Authorities of all Members. It also keeps track of the membership of all counties/territories in the WTO as well as in the international standard-setting bodies referenced in the SPS Agreement (Codex, IPPC, OIE).
     
  • Through the system, the user is able to view the most recent information available to the WTO Secretariat on each country/territory.
     
  • Example. How can I reach the Enquiry Point of Argentina?
    Click on Search-Country Information. Select Argentina. You will find the relevant information.
     
  • The user can also take advantage of the availability of four predefined reports which can be generated automatically in Word: (i) List of all Enquiry Points, (ii) List of all Notification Authorities, (iii) Membership of countries/territories in the WTO, Codex, IPPC and the OIE, and (iv) Transparency Table indicating whether Members have notified an Enquiry Point and a Notification Authority and whether they have submitted at least one notification. To generate any of these reports, go to predefined reports on the left-hand side menu and click on the desired report. Currently the STC report is not accessible publicly.
     

Top

  1. How can I get more information on the definitions of geographic/economic groups used and where can I see a list of the keywords used?
     
  • To see the definitions of geographic/economic groups, go to "Settings", click on "definitions of groups". The groupings used rely on WTO working definitions as identified in the Integrated Database (IDB) for analytical purposes. The same groupings are used in the WTO's Annual Reports.
     
  • To see the full list of notification keywords assigned to notifications in three languages, go to "Settings", click on "notification keywords".
     
  • To see the full list of subject keywords assigned to other SPS documents and specific trade concerns in three languages, go to "Settings", click on "subject keywords".
     

Top

  1. What do I do if I am not sure about the precise symbol of a document I am searching for? How does the free text search work?
     
  • You can use the sign "%" to undertake searches if you are not sure about the exact symbol.

    Example. To find all SPS-related documents which are working documents, identified by a "W" in the document symbol, enter G/SPS/W%.
     
  • The free text search uses the Free Text engine of Microsoft SQL Server. If you would like the system to search for a combination of words, put them in quotation marks.

    Example. If you are searching for notifications, where the description of content includes the term ISPM 15, enter it as "ISPM 15", for fruit fly, enter it as "fruit fly".
  • Under the "search" function, not specifying any search criteria allows the user to browse the data.

    Example. To see a list of all specific trade concerns raised in the SPS Committee, click on "search specific trade concerns". Then click "search" on the search screen without selecting any criteria. You will get a list of all specific trade concerns raised.

Top

  1. Is it possible to access other relevant websites from the SPS IMS?
     
  • Yes. To access the main WTO homepage, click on the WTO logo on the top left corner of the screen. To access the SPS gateway of the WTO website, click on "SPS Gateway" on the top menu. To access the FAO Portal (IPSAPH) or the websites of Codex, IPPC, or the OIE, click on their links under "useful links" on the left-hand side menu.
     
  • For specific questions on the functions of the SPS IMS or the underlying data, click on "Contact Us" on the top menu and send in your query. Currently, this Help file is only available in English. It will be available in Spanish and French in May 2008.
     

Top