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Agreement On The Application Of Sanitary And Phytosanitary Measures

2. The committee encourages and facilitates ad hoc consultations or negotiations between members on specific health or plant health issues. The Committee encourages the use of international standards, guidelines or recommendations by all members and encourages consultations and technical studies to strengthen coordination and integration between international and national systems and approaches for authorizing the use of food additives or setting tolerances for contaminants in food, beverages or feed. 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 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 main “cases” of the WTO for the implementation of SPS measures are: under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets restrictions on Member States` food safety policy (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) as well as veterinary and plant health substances for 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). (4) Members should consider the objective of minimizing negative commercial effects when adopting an appropriate level of health or plant health protection. What are the sanitary and plant health measures? Does the SPS agreement include measures taken by countries to protect the environment? Consumer interests? Animal welfare? Given the diversity of climatic conditions, pests or existing diseases or food safety conditions, it is not always appropriate to impose the same requirements on food, animal or plant products in different countries in terms of plant hygiene and protection. As a result, sanitary and plant health measures sometimes vary depending on the country of origin of the food, animal or plant product concerned. This is taken into account in the SPS agreement.

Governments should also recognize disease-free areas that may not conform to political boundaries and adapt their needs to the products of those regions.

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