What Is Agreement On Sanitary And Phytosanitary Measures

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1. This agreement applies to all sanitary and plant health measures that could directly or indirectly affect international trade. These measures are developed and implemented in accordance with the provisions of this agreement. The TBT agreement recognises the right of countries to adopt standards they deem appropriate, for example for human, animal or plant life or health, environmental protection or consideration of other consumer interests. Members are not prevented from taking the necessary steps to ensure that their standards are met, but this is offset by disciplines. Agricultural exporters in all countries benefit from the removal of unjustified barriers to their products. The SPS agreement reduces uncertainty about terms of sale to a given market. Efforts to produce safe food for another market should not be thwarted by provisions adopted for protectionist purposes under the guise of sanitary measures. Another leading case of SPS is hormone-treated beef. In 1996, the United States and Canada challenged a series of EU directives against the importation and sale of meat and meat products treated with certain growth hormones before the WTO dispute resolution body (DSB). The complainants argued that the EU directives violated, among other things, several provisions of the SPS agreement.

The EU argued that the presence of banned hormones in food could pose a danger to consumers` health and that, therefore, the directives were justified by several WTO provisions that authorise the adoption of restrictive measures necessary to protect human health. In 1997 and 1998, WTO decision-making bodies recognized the requirements of the United States and Canada and asked the EU to bring these guidelines into line with WTO law by the end of May 1999. The EU did not respond to this request and the DSB authorized the United States and Canada to take action against the EU. The counter-measures were applied in the form of higher tariffs imposed by the United States and Canada on certain EU products, including the famous Roquefort cheese. In 2004, while the ban on hormone-treated meat was still in force, the EU launched a new procedure before the DSB to lift the countermeasures applied by the United States and Canada.

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