(h) where a product`s specifications are changed as a result of its inspection and inspection, taking into account the provisions in force, the procedure for the modified product is limited to what is necessary to determine whether there is sufficient confidence in the product`s compliance with the rules in question; and, 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 imported pests and 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). Who benefits from the implementation of the SPS agreement? Is the agreement in the interest of developing countries? Although in the 47 years of the previous GATT dispute resolution procedures, only one body has been sought to review health or plant health disputes, ten complaints about the new obligations were formally filed in the first three years of the SPS agreement. This is not surprising, because, for the first time, the agreement clarifies the basis for challenging health or plant health measures that limit trade and which may not be scientifically justified. The challenges included issues as varied as inspection and quarantine procedures, outbreaks, use-by data, the use of veterinary drugs in livestock, and disinfection treatments for beverages. Dispute resolution bodies were invited to review four of the complaints; other complaints have been or should be resolved after the mandatory bilateral consultation process. 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.
In adopting the WTO agreement, governments have agreed to be bound by the rules of all multilateral trade agreements attached to it, including the SPS agreement. In the event of a trade dispute, WTOs dispute resolution procedures (click here for an introduction, click here for more details) encourage the governments concerned to find a mutually acceptable bilateral solution through formal consultations. If governments are unable to resolve their dispute, they may choose to follow one of the different ways of resolving disputes, including good offices, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Another government may request the creation of an impartial body of trade experts to hear from all parties to the dispute and make recommendations. Measures relating to environmental protection (with the exception of those mentioned above), consumer protection or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS agreement. However, these concerns are addressed by other WTO agreements (i.e. the OBT agreement or Article XX of the 1994 GATT). No, the SPS agreement allows countries to prioritize food security, animal health rather than trade, provided there is a demonstrable scientific basis for their food safety and health requirements. Each country has the right to determine the level of food and animal and plant health that it deems appropriate, based on an assessment of the risks associated with it. 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 (`).