Wto Sps Agreement Summary

In adopting the WTO agreement, governments have agreed to be bound by the rules of all multilateral trade agreements attached to it, including the SPS agreement. In the event of a trade dispute, WTOs dispute resolution procedures (click here for an introduction, click here for more details) encourage the governments concerned to find a mutually acceptable bilateral solution through formal consultations. If governments are unable to resolve their dispute, they may choose to follow one of the different ways of resolving disputes, including good offices, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Another government may request the creation of an impartial body of trade experts to hear from all parties to the dispute and make recommendations. Health and plant health measures can, by their very nature, lead to trade restrictions. All governments accept that certain trade restrictions may be necessary to ensure food security and the protection of animal and plant health. However, there is sometimes pressure on governments to go beyond what is necessary to protect health and to use health and plant health restrictions to protect local producers from economic competition. This pressure is expected to increase as the Uruguay Round agreements remove new trade barriers. A health or plant health restriction, which is not really necessary for health reasons, can be a very effective protectionist device and, because of its technical complexity, constitute a particularly misleading and difficult obstacle. The scope of the two agreements is different. The SPS agreement includes all measures aimed at protection: all WTO member governments must have an investigative body, an office designated to receive and respond to requests for information on the health and plant health measures of these countries.

These requests may be copies of new or existing regulations, information on relevant agreements between two countries, or information on risk assessment decisions. The addresses of the application points can be found here. Measures relating to environmental protection (with the exception of those mentioned above), consumer protection or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS agreement. However, these concerns are addressed by other WTO agreements (i.e. the OBT agreement or Article XX of the 1994 GATT). Food security systems and food supply chains are intended for national food security systems that have access to global markets. Therefore, international regulatory systems must be put in place to ensure that food is safe for international market access and consumption. That is why the Agreement on the Protection of Health and Plant Protection (SPS) came into force on 1 January 1995, with the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The SPS agreement is an interaction between government and government and applies only to government measures that may affect international trade. This publication is not intended as an official reference to the SPS agreement, therefore refer to the exact language of the agreement.

Although in the 47 years of the previous GATT dispute resolution procedures, only one body has been sought to review health or plant health disputes, ten complaints about the new obligations were formally filed in the first three years of the SPS agreement. This is not surprising, because, for the first time, the agreement clarifies the basis for challenging health or plant health measures that limit trade and which may not be scientifically justified. The challenges included issues as varied as inspection and quarantine procedures, outbreaks, use-by data, the use of veterinary drugs in livestock, and disinfection treatments for beverages.



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