The World Trade Organization
Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS)
The SPS Agreement sets out detailed international criteria for SPS measures, which are defined as measures designed:
a) To protect animal or plant life or health…from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms;
b) To protect human or animal life or health…from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs;
c) To protect human life or health…from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; or
d) To prevent or limit other damage…from the entry, establishment or spread of pests.
SPS measures include all laws, decrees, regulations, requirements, and procedures relating to products, processes, and production methods. The SPS Agreement calls for SPS measures to be harmonized “on a wide as basis as possible” and based on international standards, guidelines, or recommendations, where they exist. WTO members may maintain SPS measures based “on a higher level” of protection, however provided:
1. They are “based on scientific principles and not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence” (except provisionally)
2. They do not discriminate “arbitrarily or unjustifiably” with respect to both the National Treatment and MFN obligations
3. They are justified (a) by scientific evidence, or (b) by carrying out an assessment of risk to determine the “appropriate level” of protection. A risk assessment must take into account relevant factors, including the objective of minimizing negative trade effects. The resulting SPS measure must not be more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve the appropriate level of SPS protection.
The National Treatment principle
National Treatment is one of the fundamental market access principles of the GATT/WTO...