New and Emerging Issues in International Agricultural Trade Law
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Melaku Geboye Desta
Chapter 7: Addressing the Solution of SPS and TBT Matters through Trade Negotiations
Eugenia Laurenza and Ignacio Carren˜o I. INTRODUCTION International trade in agricultural products is increasingly being aﬀected by the adoption and maintenance of regulations, standards and requirements intended to ensure that food which is imported, manufactured and consumed is safe; aimed at protecting the health and life of animals and plants; and directed at the pursuit of important policy objectives such as, inter alia, human health or safety, animal or plant life or health, and the environment. Although the objectives that these measures intend to pursue are, in principle, legitimate, measures of this kind may result in barriers to trade to the extent that: (i) they discriminate against imports; and (ii) there are concrete diﬃculties associated with complying with such standards. These diﬃculties may be increased by the diﬀerences in the way in which each importing country implements the legitimate objectives, and this may signiﬁcantly impair the ability of exporters to gain access to third country markets. Within the WTO framework, the General Agreement on Tariﬀs and Trade (GATT) and, to a greater extent, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) attempt to regulate the trade-related aspects of such measures. This legal framework rests, inter alia, on the following pillars: the nondiscrimination and the least-trade restrictive measure principles; harmonisation of international standards; and transparency. The TBT Agreement, which covers technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures, requires that technical...
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