Explain the Agreement on Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).
Sanitary measures are those related to human or animal health and phytosanitary measures deal with plant health. Thus these measures include protection of fish and wild fauna, forests and wild flora, but does not include environment and animal welfare. In, the context of WTO, following are the objectives of SPS Agreements:
- Protection of human or animal life or health from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in their flood.
- Protection of human life from plant or animal carried diseases.
- Protection of animal or plant life from the introduction of pests, diseases or disease-causing organisms.
- Protection of a country from damage caused by the entry, establishment or spread of pests.
During the Uruguay Round, some countries feared that the elimination of agriculture-specific non-tariff measures and the tariff reductions would be circumvented by disguised protectionist measures in the form of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations. This concern provided a major driving force which led negotiators to create a separate agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
The SPS and Agriculture Agreements are complementary and both are serviced by the Agriculture and Commodities Division within the WTO secretariat. The SPS Agreement, does not impose any quantitative and legally binding schedules of concessions. It is a set of rules, principles and benchmarks for WTO members to ensure that sanitary and phytosanitary trade measures are justified and do not constitute disguised restrictions.. on international trade. These rules are legally binding. The agreement consists of fourteen (14) articles and three annexes