The Agreement On The Application Of Sanitary And Phytosanitary Measures

The SPS Agreement expressly recognizes the right of governments to take measures to protect human, animal and plant health, provided that they are based on scientific knowledge, necessary for the protection of health and that foreign sources of supply are not unduly discriminatory. Similarly, governments will continue to set the level of food safety and the protection of animal and plant health in their countries. Neither the WTO nor any other international body will do so. 1 The original GATT Agreement was revised in the Uruguay Round and the revised text of GATT 1994 is an integral part of the WTO. Its rules remain in force unless they are replaced by a more specific WTO agreement. As regards food safety and phytosanitary or animal health measures within the meaning of the SPS Agreement, the provisions of that Agreement shall prevail over those of GATT 1994. (Return to text) The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, also known as spS or spS only, is an international treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and entered into force with the creation of the WTO in early 1995. [1] Overall, sanitary and phytosanitary measures covered by the Agreement are measures to protect human, animal or plant life or health from certain risks. [2] Although in the 47 years of previous GATT dispute settlement procedures only one body was invited to examine sanitary or phytosanitary disputes, ten complaints were formally filed in the first three years of the SPS Convention concerning new commitments. This is not surprising, as the agreement clarifies for the first time the basis for challenging sanitary or phytosanitary measures that restrict trade and that may not be scientifically justified. Challenges ranged from issues as wide as inspection and quarantine procedures, epizootics, consumption data, the use of veterinary drugs in animal husbandry and disinfection treatments for beverages.

Dispute settlement bodies were invited to consider four of the complaints; the remaining complaints have been or are expected to be resolved following the mandatory bilateral consultation procedure. In its first year of existence, the SPS COMMITTEE has developed recommended procedures and a standardized format that governments can use for the necessary prior notification of new rules. By the end of 1997, more than 700 notifications of sanitary and phytosanitary measures had been filed and put into circulation. The Committee examined the information provided by Governments on their national regulatory procedures, their use of risk assessments in the development of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and their epidemiological status, in particular with regard to foot-and-mouth disease and fruit flies. . . .

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