According to a report, the number of European Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) notifications went up in 2023.

Overall, 1,993 SPS notifications were submitted by World Trade Organization (WTO) members. While the total number dropped by 8.2 percent compared with 2022, EU notifications increased by 19 percent.

Most notifications issued by the EU in 2023 concerned feed additives, followed by pesticides. Food safety generated the majority of SPS notifications, followed by animal health.

The EU submitted 125 notifications, which lifted the region from 5th to 4th place. Brazil ranked first due to the notification of pesticide MRLs, followed by Japan and Canada.

Bangladesh and Vanuatu published their first SPS notifications, while Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya were among the top 10 notifiers. Ukraine made 39 notifications despite the war in 2023.

Specific trade concerns
The EU received 48 comments on its SPS notifications, down from 2022. The United States, China, Australia, Brazil, and Japan were the most active commenters on EU legislation, either in writing or in the form of specific trade concerns raised at the SPS committee.

In 2023, the SPS Committee discussed the highest number of specific trade concerns in its history. The EU was the most active member in raising STCs towards other countries and the party receiving the most complaints. These included the EU review of legislation on veterinary medicinal products, the policy on pesticides, MRLs in general, and endocrine disruptors.

The EU sent comments on 32 notifications, focusing on measures notified by Brazil and China, and ten replies were received.

DG Sante has its own SPS database to handle the growing number of notifications and fulfill EU transparency obligations.

Missing, late, and incomplete notifications continue to be a concern. Recurring problems, like the availability of translations of documents in one of the WTO official languages, will be discussed at an SPS committee workshop on transparency in March. There is also the upcoming sixth review of the operation and implementation of the SPS Agreement.

Since 1995, the EU has submitted 1,827 SPS notifications. This puts Europe in fourth position behind the U.S., Brazil, and Canada.

STDF support
Meanwhile, Norway has given $1.5 million to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to help developing economies and least-developed countries (LDCs) meet international sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

Support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) will enable STDF to launch SPS capacity development projects across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director-General, said: “This contribution underscores the importance of international cooperation in advancing food safety systems, contributing to poverty reduction, enhanced food security, and better protection of the environment. With Norway’s support, the STDF will continue developing and financing projects helping developing countries meet international food safety standards, promoting safe and inclusive trade.”

Finland also gave $1.3 million to four WTO funds, including the STDF. Money will help developing economies and LDCs implement the food safety, animal health, and plant health standards required for international trade and strengthen their SPS systems.

STDF was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), and the WTO.

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