Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets limits on Member States` policy on food security (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) and animal and plant health (phyto-hygiene) with regard to pests and imported diseases. There are three standards bodies that set standards on which WTO members should base their SPS methods. According to Article 3, they are the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the secretariat of the International Convention on the Protection of Plants (IPPC). Developing countries have participated to an unprecedented extent in all aspects of the Uruguay Round negotiations. Developing countries have been active participants in negotiations on health and plant health measures, often represented by their national food safety experts or veterinary and plant health experts. Both before and during the Uruguay Round negotiations, the GATT secretariat helped developing countries define effective negotiating positions. The SPS agreement calls for assistance to developing countries so that they can strengthen their food security and health supplement systems for wildlife. FAO and other international organizations have already implemented programmes for developing countries in these regions. 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. Although import duties on many agricultural products have been reduced or adopted under preferential trade agreements, farmers in developing countries are facing new challenges in selling their products around the world.
Technical requirements, particularly in terms of product hygiene and safety, have become one of the main barriers to trade for many manufacturers. OBT measures could cover anything from vehicle safety to the shape of food cartons to energy-efficient appliances. To cite some examples of human health, OBT measures could include pharmaceutical restrictions or cigarette labelling. Most measures related to the fight against human diseases fall under the OBT agreement, unless they involve diseases transmitted by plants or animals (for example. B rabies). With regard to foodstuffs, labelling requirements, nutritional claims and concerns, quality and packaging rules are generally not considered sanitary or plant health measures and are therefore generally subject to the OBT agreement. The technical agreement to combat trade includes all technical rules, standards and optional procedures to ensure compliance, unless they are sanitary or plant health measures within the meaning of the SPS agreement. It is therefore the nature of the measure that determines whether it falls under the OBT agreement, but the purpose of the measure, which is relevant to determining whether a measure is subject to the SPS convention. In accordance with this agreement, members are fully responsible for meeting all of the commitments set out in this agreement.
Members formulate and suspend positive measures and mechanisms to support compliance with the provisions of this agreement by entities other than the seats of central government. Members take appropriate measures at their disposal to ensure that non-governmental organizations located on their territory and regional entities to which the competent authorities on their territory are parties comply with the relevant provisions of this agreement.