The agreement on the application of health and plant health measures is one of the last documents adopted at the end of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. It applies to all health measures (animal-related) and plant health measures (SPS) that may have a direct or indirect effect on international trade. The SPS agreement contains a number of agreements (trade disciplines) on how SPS measures are defined and applied by countries when they establish, revise or enforce their national laws and regulations. Countries agree to base their SPS standards on science and, to guide their actions, the agreement encourages countries to use the standards set by international standards bodies. The SPS agreement is intended to ensure that SPS measures do not arbitrarily or unfairly discriminate against trade with other members or are not used to conceal trade restrictions. In this SPS agreement, countries retain the sovereign right to guarantee the level of health protection they deem appropriate, but agree that this right is not hijacked for protectionist purposes and that there are no unnecessary trade barriers. The application of SPS measures is subject to a rule of equivalence and not equality. The SPS Committee, created by the SPS Agreement to ensure compliance with its implementation, has reviewed the operation and implementation of the agreement three times since it came into force in 1995 (`). Many governments have enshrined the main obligations of the SPS agreement in their national rules. They first consider whether the application of one of the relevant international standards2 could provide the level of health protection that the country deems appropriate and, if not, base their application on an assessment of the health risks associated with the trade in the product. The SPS committee has developed guidelines to help governments define a coherent approach to determining their acceptable level of risk and to select actions to achieve these objectives.3 Who benefits from the implementation of the SPS agreement? Is the agreement in the interest of developing countries? The decision to start the Uruguay Round trade negotiations was taken after years of public debate, including within national governments. The decision to negotiate an agreement on the application of sanitary and plant health measures was taken in 1986 at the beginning of the cycle.
The SPS negotiations were opened to the 124 governments that participated in the Uruguay Round. Many governments were represented by their food safety or animal health officers. Negotiators also drew on the expertise of international technical organizations such as FAO, the code and the OIE. The WTO secretariat has prepared this text to promote public understanding of the SPS agreement. There are no plans to provide for a legal interpretation of the agreement. The scope of the two agreements is different. The SPS agreement includes all measures aimed at protection: in the event of a dispute over SPS measures, the group may seek scientific advice, including by convening a group of technical experts. If the body concludes that a country is not meeting its obligations under a WTO agreement, it will generally recommend that the country bring its measure into line with its obligations.
That might involve. B procedural changes in the way a measure is applied, an amendment or elimination of the measure, or simply the elimination of discriminatory elements. All governments of WTO member states must have an investigative body, an office to counter and respond to requests for information on the health and plant health measures of these countries. These requests may be copies of new or existing regulations, information on relevant agreements between two countries, or information on risk assessment decisions.