International Trade and Safety Measures: An In-depth Assessment of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and its Implications on Trade
13 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 15, 2018
The SPS Agreement is an agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures established by the World Trade Organization in 1995. Annex A of the WTO SPS agreement defines an SPS measure as any measure applied to protect animal or plant health or health within the Member's territory from risks arising from the entry establishment or spread of pests' diseases, disease-carrying organisms, or disease-causing organisms. It also protects human or animal life within the Member's territory from risk arising from additives, contaminants, toxins, disease-causing organisms, food, beverages, and feedstuffs. It also protects human lives within the Member's territory from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants, and products thereof or from the entry establishment or spread of pests. Lastly, it prevents or limits other damage within the Member's territory from the entry establishment or spread of pests. The WTO SPS agreement sets rules governing the sanitary and phytosanitary aspects of international trade. It is the regulatory framework aimed to make sure that phytosanitary measures relevant to trade are consistent within international standards, justified by scientific principles and evidence, harmonized internationally to the extent possible, transparent only as restrictive as absolutely necessary to meet the appropriate level of protection required, non-discriminatory, appropriate to the conditions in the importing and exporting countries. What is good about the SPS agreement is its consistency. Every member country is treated the same way, and its transparency, in which the trading countries must have the proofs of how the country conducting the analysis got to the result so that there is no place for discrimination. According to the standards imposed in the SPS agreement that they have signed with the WTO, countries must keep prejudices from happening: If a country says "no" to another country's product, it has to have a sound scientific reason. Otherwise, the WTO's court may intervene because the goal is to promote fair trade and make it easy for all the countries to trade.
Keywords: International Trade, Sanitary Measures, Trade, SPS Agreement, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
JEL Classification: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H O, P
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation