Implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for Food Safety Governance
Prepared for “Governing Science and Technology in the Mega-RTA Era: Regulatory Divergence and Convergence”, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, November 17-18, 2017
23 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 15, 2016
The depth and breadth of this mega-regional agreement as well as the diversity of its twelve Parties pose a challenge to not only trade policies in the conventional sense but also many other cross-cutting issues. With the innovative institutional designs of the TPP, food safety governance is destined to be configured and reconfigured not only by the SPS Chapter alone, but also by other horizontal rules. For example, while harmonization with international standards, scientific principle, risk analysis, and transparency still serve as the fundamental rubrics of SPS (and SPS-Plus) cooperation among TPP members, cross-cutting regulatory coherence rules — such as notice-and-comment requirement, cost-benefit analysis, and regulatory impact assessment — will come into play with significant relevance and importance. What are the SPS-Plus rights and obligations in the TPP? Will such SPS-Plus provisions pose pro-trade or pro-health ramifications to countries within and beyond the scope of the TPP? How will the rules under the SPS Chapter and the Regulatory Coherence Chapter interact and work together for an optimal institutional design that can strengthen trade liberalization and ensure adequate food safety protection at the same time? What will the diversity of the TPP Parties in terms of legal systems and stages of development bear on the implementation of relevant rules? Last but not least, will the TPP platform for SPS cooperation produce constructive or destructive effects on the WTO multilateral trading system?
For their theoretical and practical importance, this paper endeavors to explore questions as such by taking a close look at the TPP Chapters on SPS Measures (and Regulatory Coherence). Part II briefly reviews the negotiation history of the SPS Chapter, sorting out the development of some contentious issues, which then serves as a vintage point to analyze the main provisions of the final text. Part III identifies the SPS-Plus provisions incorporated in the TPP by referencing to the WTO SPS Agreement, and characterizes them along the pro-trade versus pro-health continuum. It moves on to examine the implications of the TPP for global food safety governance, offering some preliminary observations for future discussions in comparable settings. Part IV concludes.
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