- 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.
- What are the precise functions related to SPS
- 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
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
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
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
- What are the functions related to specific trade
- 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
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.
- What are the functions related to "other SPS
- As of August 2007, more than 1600 SPS-related documents had been
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- How can I get more information on the definitions
of geographic/economic groups used and where can I see a list of the
- 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
- To see the full list of notification keywords assigned to
notifications in three languages, go to "Settings", click on "notification
- 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".
- 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
- 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.