Understanding The Sps Agreement

Understanding The Sps Agreement

While the SPS agreement allows governments to maintain adequate health and plant health protection, it reduces the potential arbitrariness of decisions and promotes consistent decision-making. It requires that sanitary and plant health measures be applied for purposes other than ensuring food security and animal and plant health. In particular, the agreement clarifies the factors to be taken into account when assessing risk risk. Measures to ensure food security and the protection of animal and plant health should, where possible, be based on the analysis and evaluation of objective and accurate scientific data. 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. One of the provisions of the SPS agreement is the obligation for members to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to developing countries, either through relevant international organizations or at the bilateral level. FAO, OIE and WHO have implemented important food, animal and plant security assistance programmes to developing countries.

A number of countries also have important bilateral programmes with other WTO members in these areas. The WTO secretariat has organised a programme of regional seminars to provide developing countries (and Central and Eastern European countries) with detailed information on the rights and obligations conferred on them by this agreement. These seminars are organized in collaboration with Codex, OIE and IPPC to ensure that governments are aware of the role these organizations can play in helping countries meet their needs and to take full advantage of the benefits of the SPS agreement. The seminars are open to the participation of private professional associations and consumer organisations. The WTO secretariat also provides technical assistance through national workshops and governments through their representatives in Geneva.

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