International Trade and Health Protection

International Trade and Health Protection

A Critical Assessment of the WTO’s SPS Agreement

Elgar International Economic Law series

Tracey Epps

This book examines and critiques the WTO’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), asking whether it strikes an appropriate balance between conflicting domestic health protection and trade liberalization objectives.

Chapter 4: Looking to the Future: Forces of Change

Tracey Epps

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, human rights


4.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter examines emerging forces that are contributing or are likely to contribute to an increase in the number and/or complexity of disputes over trade-restrictive SPS measures. The forces identified are: (i) the increasing use of non-tariff barriers in lieu of direct tariffs (referred to as the ‘substitution effect’); (ii) new and increasing food safety risks; (iii) an increasing emphasis in Western democracies on public participation in regulatory decision-making; (iv) differing approaches between countries to regulatory decision-making; and (v) North–South conflicts. 4.2 TARIFF SUBSTITUTION Given the GATT’s success over the years in reducing tariffs, some commentators expect that countries will seek to substitute repealed tariffs with non-tariff barriers such as health regulations that are capable of achieving the same result of protecting domestic interests.1 This is especially a concern in the case of agricultural goods where the 1994 Agreement on Agriculture required Members to convert all non-tariff barriers into tariff equivalents and to begin to reduce tariff levels.2 It has also been argued that because domestic regula1 In the context of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, Julie Soloway, ‘Institutional Capacity to Constrain Suboptimal Welfare Outcomes from Trade – Restricting Environmental, Health and Safety Regulation under NAFTA’ (University of Toronto, 2000, unpublished) finds that of 25 environmental, health, and safety-related trade irritants or disputes, there was evidence in 24 cases that the regulation was disguised protection. There was only one case in which it was definitely established that there was an actual, serious environmental, health...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information