Private Standards and Global Governance
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Private Standards and Global Governance

Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives

Edited by Axel Marx, Miet Maertens, Johan Swinnen and Jan Wouters

The expert contributors assess the state-of-the-art with regard to private regulation of food, natural resources and labor conditions. They begin with an introduction to, and discussion of, several leading existing private standards, and go on to assess private food standards and their legitimacy and effectiveness in the context of the global trade regime.
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Chapter 9: WTO Perspectives on Private Standards

G. Stanton


26/6/12/final 9. Food safety-related private standards: the WTO perspective Gretchen H. Stanton1 INTRODUCTION The international trade agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been negotiated by the governments of the 155 countries/ territories that are members of the WTO. These are normally seen as the rules that are to be respected by governments when establishing national requirements that affect international trade. The discussions at the various WTO committees are therefore among government representatives and normally about government policies. However, in June 2005, a representative of the small Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines complained about restrictions that affected the ability of the country to sell bananas to the European Union (EU). This complaint, raised in the context of a meeting of the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS committee) in Geneva, was not about the official pesticide residue requirements of the EU or of its member states, but rather about requirements established by a private, non-profit organization, GLOBALG.A.P. (known at that time as EUREPGAP). By raising this specific trade concern, the small island triggered discussions at the WTO that have involved and divided more countries with respect to international food safety and health concerns than any other issue to date. THE WTO AGREEMENTS To understand why this issue has become so hotly debated, it is necessary to go back in time to the creation of the WTO. The WTO is an organization of member governments2 who have developed a...

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