Handbook on International Trade Policy
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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.
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Chapter 36: Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues

Grant E. Isaac


Grant E. Isaac Introduction As successive rounds of trade liberalization have reduced traditional market access barriers such as tariffs, quotas and other quantitative restrictions, domestic regulations – including those for food safety – have increasingly received attention as a source of trade barriers. For example, at the multilateral level concern about the potential trade distortion created by domestic food safety regulations led to the establishment of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures1 (SPS Agreement) on 1 January 1995. Many regional trade agreements also have SPS measures built into them. The aim of such agreements is to discipline the domestic use of SPS-type food safety regulations in order to ensure that human, animal and plant safety measures are not used as disguised forms of trade protectionism. The objective in this chapter is to assess the trade rules dealing with SPS measures and to assess some of the important trade policy issues that arise. SPS measures at the WTO SPS measures include human, animal and plant safety and health regulations that a particular country may put into place (Isaac 2002; Marceau and Trachtman 2002). Trade tensions arise because countries differ in how they regulate resulting in SPS-related market access barriers. This potential market access barrier is explicitly recognized in the SPS Agreement which is the focus of the discussion below. In order to understand the structure and function of the SPS Agreement, it is necessary to locate it within the broader framework for multilateral trade...

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