The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the “SPS Agreement”) entered into force on 1 January 1995 with the establishment of the World Trade Organisation. It concerns the application of the rules on food safety and animal and plant health. 1. This Agreement shall apply to all sanitary and phytosanitary measures which may directly or indirectly affect international trade. Such measures shall be developed and applied in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement. The SPS Agreement established a Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the “SPS Committee”) to provide a forum for consultation on measures relating to food safety or affecting trade in the field of animal and plant health and to ensure the implementation of the SPS Agreement. Like other WTO committees, the SPS Committee is open to all WTO Member States. Governments that have observer status with the WTO`s senior bodies (such as the Council for Trade in Goods) may also be observers in the SPS Committee. The Committee agreed to invite representatives of several international intergovernmental organizations as observers, including Codex, OIE, IPPC, WHO, UNCTAD and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Governments may send officials they deem appropriate to attend SPS Committee meetings, and many send their food safety authorities or veterinary or phytosanitary officials.
The agreement also includes a code of conduct for governments and non-governmental or industry organizations to develop, adopt and implement voluntary standards. The code, which is enforced by more than 200 standards bodies, states that the procedures used to decide whether a product complies with the relevant standards must be fair. The agreement also encourages countries to mutually recognise a product`s conformity assessment procedures. Without recognition, products may have to be tested twice, first by the exporting country and then by the importing country. 1 In this Agreement, the reference to Article XX(b) also includes the chapeau of this Article. (back to text) 2 For the purposes of Article 3. (3), a scientific justification shall be provided where a Member determines, on the basis of a review and evaluation of the scientific information available in accordance with the relevant provisions of this Agreement, that the relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations are not sufficient to achieve its adequate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection. (back to text) 3 For the purposes of Article 5(6), a measure shall not be more restrictive than necessary for trade, unless there is another measure reasonably available, taking into account technical and economic feasibility, which achieves the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection and is significantly less restrictive for trade. (back to text) 4 For the purposes of these definitions, animals include fish and wild animals; the plant includes forests and wild flora; Pests include weeds; and contaminants include pesticide and veterinary drug residues, as well as foreign substances. (back to text) 5 Sanitary and phytosanitary measures such as laws, regulations or regulations of general application. (back to text) 6 Where reference is made in this Agreement to nationals, in the case of a separate customs territory which is a member of the WTO, natural or legal persons shall be considered to be natural or legal persons who have a real employee and not only an employee or for the establishment of a commercial or commercial establishment in that customs territory.
(back to text) 7 Control, inspection and approval procedures include, inter alia, sampling, testing and certification procedures. (back to text) Being provisionally focused on tariff reduction, the framework that preceded the SPS Agreement was not sufficiently equipped to address the problems of non-tariff barriers (non-tariff barriers) and the need for an independent agreement to address them has become critical.  The SPS Convention is an ambitious attempt to address unconventional barriers resulting from transboundary differences in technical standards without compromising the prerogative of governments to take protective measures against diseases and pests.  Measures to protect the environment (except as defined above), to protect the interests of consumers or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS Convention. .