WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) Notifications

February 3, 2016

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Enquiry Points regularly distribute notifications by member countries on changes to their import policies which may impact exports of Canadian products.  While Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s policy officers make efforts to review these notifications and advise industry if the proposed changes are deemed to have potential to negatively impact their business activities, the volume of notifications and the lack of familiarity with industry production practices  can make the exercise challenging.  In previous years, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), which operated Canada’s Enquiry Point, also maintained a service entitled “Export Alert” which advised Canadian industry of these  notifications.  However, when the Canadian Enquiry Point was shifted to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), this service was discontinued by SCC.

Going forward, we encourage all trade associations and  companies with export interests to review WTO SPS and TBT notifications and advise of concerns through the Market Access Secretariat single window address (), so that AAFC may make representations to that country to revise their policy should it be deemed as arbitrary or a disguised restriction on trade; to not be based on scientific principles; or be more trade restrictive than necessary to protect life or health in the importing country.

There are a number of methods available for industry to be aware of upcoming or existing SPS and TBT regulations of Member countries. These include: a) subscribing with the WTO to receive notifications directly via email; b) searching “documents online”; and c) using the SPS Information Management System (SPS-IMS).  Steps to use each platform are outlined below.

a) Subscribing to receive WTO SPS and TBT notifications

To receive notifications directly from the WTO please go to:

·        https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/sps_e/sps_mailing_list_e.htm to subscribe for SPS notifications; and
·        https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tbt_e/tbt_mailing_list_e.htm to subscribe for TBT notifications.

The WTO SPS and TBT Agreements contain provisions to ensure transparency in the development and application of these measures, including the publication of measures that apply to imported commodities. A 60-day comment period is typically provided in regular notifications starting from the issuance of the notification by the WTO Secretariat.

b) Documents Online

To search for information on regulatory changes in global markets, we suggest you visit the World Trade Organization Documents Online Web site directly at https://docs.wto.org.

From the Recent documents tab, select: time frame; topic (Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures or Technical Barriers to Trade); and language and then select

On the search results screen, the left-hand menu provides the option “Notifications,” which filters the results list to only display notifications. In most cases, the complete text of a notified document can be downloaded from the link provided in the notification “Title” box or “Text available from” box.

c) SPS and TBT Information Management Systems

These systems allows users to track and obtain information on measures that member governments have notified to the WTO including specific trade concerns and other documents of the WTO SPS and TBT Committees.

The public versions of the systems are available at https://spsims.wto.org (SPS) andhttps://tbtims.wto.org (TBT) to help interested parties according to their specific needs.

For example, these systems allow searches to be based on a variety of criteria such as geographic groupings, products codes, comments periods, keywords, etc.