The Future of SPS Governance: SPS-Plus or SPS-Minus?

51(3) Journal of World Trade 445-470 (2017)

26 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017 Last revised: 18 Aug 2017

Date Written: April 4, 2017


Food safety plays an increasingly important role in today’s interdependent trading relations. The existing multilateral rules embodied in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures are increasingly being supplemented through a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Unlike debates surrounding intellectual property rights however, the negotiations concerning sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules in preferential trade agreements are rarely analyzed in a systematic and detailed manner. The article uses the SPS Chapter negotiated for purposes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP or TPPA) as a model for the future of SPS governance and compares it to the existing disciplines under the SPS Agreement. While the future of the TPPA in its current iteration may be in doubt, the US has clearly posited its SPS Chapter as a blueprint for future SPS governance. While the SPS Chapter contains some procedural advances in SPS governance, its substantive rules – or lack thereof – are not only at odds with the existing SPS regime, but exhibit a flawed understanding of scientific enquiry and how to deal with the uncertainty inherent therein.

Keywords: sanitary and phytosanitary measures, SPS, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, science, regulatory convergence

JEL Classification: F10, F13, F15, K33, I10, I18

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Markus, The Future of SPS Governance: SPS-Plus or SPS-Minus? (April 4, 2017). 51(3) Journal of World Trade 445-470 (2017), Available at SSRN:

Markus Wagner (Contact Author)

University of Wollongong ( email )

Northfields Avenue
Wollongong, New South Wales 2522

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