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Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, 15th April 1994 (1867 UNTS 493, WTO Doc LT/UR/A-1A/12), OXIO 269

World Trade Organization [WTO]

Subject(s):
International trade

Core Issues

1. The substantive provisions of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (‘SPS measures’).

2. The role of science and scientific evidence in the justification of SPS measures.

3. Procedural provisions concerning the administration of SPS measures.

4. The establishment and functions of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

This headnote pertains to: Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, an instrument the text of which has been adopted in the framework an international organization. Jump to full text

Background

The Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (‘SPS Agreement’ or ‘Agreement’) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) regulated the adoption of sanitary and phytosanitary (‘SPS’) measures by WTO members. It concerned the design and application of measures regulating food safety, animal and plant life, and health. More specifically, it ensured that measures pursuing fundamental goals of public safety and public health are not taken as a disguise for protectionism, and delegates to science a crucial role in the appraisal of SPS measures. The Agreement affirmed the right of WTO members to take SPS measures at a level of protection they deem fit; at the same time, it aimed to ensure consistency in their application and reduce arbitrary measures.

The SPS Agreement was introduced with the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (‘Uruguay Round’) (Ministerial Declaration on the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (‘Ministerial Declaration’)). Together with the other agreements contained in the Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, it constituted an integral part of the treaties which established the WTO. It is contained in Annex 1A to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization, and it is thus binding on all WTO members.

The regulation of SPS measures arose as a pressing issue during the 1986 Uruguay Round of negotiations in the Ministerial Declaration. The discussion on SPS measures was triggered in the context of the negotiations on agriculture, given the potential of SPS measures to be detrimental to the liberalization of that sector (Ministerial Declaration). Members were concerned that the progressive elimination of tariffs would have resulted in an increase of non-tariff barriers to trade.

In 1988, the Working Group on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures began the drafting of a separate agreement (Communication from the US on a Health and Sanitary Working Group). A particularly active role in the negotiations was played by the European Communities (EC), United States (US), and the so-called ‘Cairns Group’ constituted by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Uruguay. The drafting process was influenced by several legal traditions reflecting different approaches to the regulation of health risk. The Cairns Group advocated stringent requirements and close adherence to international standards. The EC supported a greater degree of discretion for members to depart from international standards and offer higher levels of protection. In an intermediate position, the US highlighted the role of scientific evidence in the justification of specific measures.

Summary

The SPS Agreement affirmed the right of members to ‘[adopt] and enforc[e] measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, subject to the requirement that these measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between [m]embers where the same conditions prevail or a disguised restriction on international trade’. [ref 1]

The SPS Agreement’s goal was to ‘harmoniz[e] sanitary and phytosanitary standards between [m]embers’, and the Agreement applied to SPS measures ‘which may, directly or indirectly, affect international trade’. [ref 2; Art 1] It thus covered measures aiming at the protection of animal and plant life from risk due to pests, diseases, additives, toxins, and seeking to prevent damage due to the entry and spread of pests. (see Annex A)

The adoption of SPS measures is a right of WTO members. However, members are required to act consistently with the Agreement, including the requirement to ensure that SPS measures are ‘only applied to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health’, are ‘based on scientific principles and not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence’, ‘do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between [m]embers where identical or similar conditions prevail’, and are not ‘applied in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on international trade’. [Art 2]

The SPS Agreement required members to base their SPS measures on the international standards drafted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics, and under the auspices of the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention in cooperation with regional organizations operating within the framework of the International Plant Protection Convention. A higher level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection is permissible if supported by a scientific justification, or as consequence of the level or protection chosen as appropriate. [Art 3] (see also Annex A) Members are also required to accept as equivalent the SPS measures of other members achieving an equivalent level of protection. [Art 4]

SPS measures shall be based on a risk assessment taking into account available scientific evidence. [Art 5.1 and 5.2] In the absence of scientific evidence, members can adopt provisional SPS measures. [Art 5.7]

Members must take into account the SPS characteristics of the area from which products originate, be that a country or a regional part of it. [Art 6]

Members shall notify changes in their SPS measures and provide information in accordance with Annex B. [Art 7] In the context of control, inspection, and approval procedures, members are required to comply with the provisions in Annex C. [Art 8]

Developing countries can benefit from technical assistance and special and differential treatment (‘SDT’) which takes into account their special needs. [Art 9] SDT can be in the form of longer time frames for compliance with SPS measures of other members, and longer time frames for compliance with the provisions of the SPS Agreement upon approval of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (‘SPS Committee’ or ‘Committee’). [Art 10]

Due to the highly technical nature of SPS measures, in dispute settlement a WTO panel may consult with experts and with other international organizations. [Art 11]

The SPS Agreement establishes the SPS Committee in charge of administrating the adoption and maintenance of SPS measures and implementing the provisions of the Agreement. [Art 12.1] The Committee encourages and facilitates consultations between members on SPS issues, and encourages the use of international standards. [Art 12.2] The SPS Committee shall develop procedures to monitor international harmonization, and coordinate efforts with the relevant international organizations. [Art 3.5] The Committee also maintains contacts with international standardizing bodies, with the goal of securing the best available scientific and technical advice for the administration of the Agreement. [Art 12.3]

Analysis

Relationship with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

The SPS Agreement elaborates on the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), especially on Article XX(b) of the GATT, and creates new obligations for WTO members. The application of the SPS Agreement does not per se preclude the application of the GATT. However, unlike Article XX(b), no violation of GATT provisions needs to be raised in order for the SPS Agreement to apply. If a complainant raises violations under both agreements, a WTO panel would normally first examine violations under the SPS Agreement.

Scope of Application

The Agreement applies to measures listed in its Annex A. In the un-appealed European Communities - Measures Affecting The Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products (‘EC - Biotech Products’), the panel adopted a broad interpretation of the categories in Annex A as including more types of indirect risks in the definition of SPS measures, and considering less strong causal connections between the entry of a product and the risk to life and health (EC - Biotech Products, paras 7.212–7.392). As EC - Biotech Products was not appealed, the issue is left open of whether measures enacted to protect the environment and biodiversity could be regarded as SPS measures.

The definitions in Annex A(1) of the Agreement are also relevant to differentiate between SPS and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) measures. The application of the SPS and the TBT agreements are mutually exclusive according to Article 1.5 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (‘TBT Agreement’) and Article 1.4 of the SPS Agreement. To discern whether a provision falls under the SPS Agreement, the concerns underlying its adoption must be ascertained. If the aim is to protect human, animal and plant life or health, the application of TBT Agreement is excluded (EC - Biotech Products, paras 7.165–7.168).

Science and risk assessment

The preference in the SPS Agreement for science-based approaches to risk was dictated by the necessity to determine risks and related measures as objectively as possible. Thus, science is turned into the threshold to ascertain whether a measure is necessary to achieve the protection of human, animal, and plant life or health, or is instead a form of disguised protectionism. This feature of the SPS Agreement has elicited debate over the role of science in international trade and, more generally, in the regulation of modern societies. Science is not a value-neutral discipline, as it can be influenced by social processes and used to advance specific political goals. This debate also touched upon international organizations, and the frequent resort to experts in global governance to justify crucial decisions, even in the presence of scientific uncertainty. Furthermore, the concept of risk has a societal dimension, reflected in the determination of the appropriate level of protection which may vary between different societies.

These tensions are mirrored in the application of the SPS Agreement by WTO members, insofar as there is a lack of a specified methodology to follow in the risk assessment. Many SPS disputes have been centred on the methods used by members. In Japan – Measures Affecting Agricultural Products (‘Japan – Agricultural Products II’), the Appellate Body held that a rational relationship should exist between the measure and the scientific evidence gathered (Japan – Agricultural Products II, para 44). Moreover, members should be able to produce specific scientific studies substantiating the risk (EC – Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products, para 200).

Impact

The substantive obligations of the SPS Agreement can be said to have an impact on members’ sovereign right to regulate health-related risks and other fundamental public interests. The Agreement also established science as the threshold against which to evaluate SPS measures.

As the SPS Agreement conferred to international standard-setting organizations a quasi-legislative authority, there are questions regarding the legitimacy of those standards. On the one hand, the regulatory role of the three standardizing bodies in the SPS Agreement is enormously enhanced. On the other hand, the procedures of these bodies may be non-transparent or not based on consensus, and the SPS Agreement does not provide for any procedural guarantees. Members may thus be required, for example, to base their SPS measures on narrowly adopted standards that do not reflect global consensus.

Moreover, the SPS Agreement and the role of science in the SPS Agreement have an impact on the practice of WTO dispute settlement. Pursuant to Article 11 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, a panel must carry out an objective assessment of the matter brought before it. This raises the question of the appropriate standard of review that panels should adopt with respect to SPS measures. An intrusive scrutiny by the panel could clash with WTO members’ sovereignty, impairing the democratic process apt to determine the state-appropriate level of protection.

Indeed, WTO panels are increasingly relying on external scientific experts, which can be summoned under Article 11.2 of the SPS Agreement. Frequent recourse to expertise could result in a less deferential approach to members’ risk assessment, thus undermining democratic participation in the national decision-making process to the benefit of unelected technocrats.

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Reporter(s): Enrico Partiti

Source text

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Source and copyright holder: World Trade Organization. Document reproduced with the permission of the World Trade Organization. OXIO headnotes are not official WTO commentaries.

Reaffirming that no Member should be prevented from adopting or enforcing measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, subject to the requirement that these measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between Members where the same conditions prevail or a disguised restriction on international trade;

Desiring to improve the human health, animal health and phytosanitary situation in all Members;

Noting that sanitary and phytosanitary measures are often applied on the basis of bilateral agreements or protocols;

Desiring the establishment of a multilateral framework of rules and disciplines to guide the development, adoption and enforcement of sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to minimize their negative effects on trade;

Recognizing the important contribution that international standards, guidelines and recommendations can make in this regard;

Desiring to further the use of harmonized sanitary and phytosanitary measures between Members, on the basis of international standards, guidelines and recommendations developed by the relevant international organizations, including the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics, and the relevant international and regional organizations operating within the framework of the International Plant Protection Convention, without requiring Members to change their appropriate level of protection of human, animal or plant life or health;

Recognizing that developing country Members may encounter special difficulties in complying with the sanitary or phytosanitary measures of importing Members, and as a consequence in access to markets, and also in the formulation and application of sanitary or phytosanitary measures in their own territories, and desiring to assist them in their endeavours in this regard;

Desiring therefore to elaborate rules for the application of the provisions of GATT 1994 which relate to the use of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, in particular the provisions of Article XX(b)1;

Hereby agree as follows:

Article 1  General Provisions

1.  This Agreement applies to all sanitary and phytosanitary measures which may, directly or indirectly, affect international trade. Such measures shall be developed and applied in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.

2.  For the purposes of this Agreement, the definitions provided in Annex A shall apply.

3.  The annexes are an integral part of this Agreement.

4.  Nothing in this Agreement shall affect the rights of Members under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade with respect to measures not within the scope of this Agreement.

Article 2  Basic Rights and Obligations

1.  Members have the right to take sanitary and phytosanitary measures necessary for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement.

2.  Members shall ensure that any sanitary or phytosanitary measure is applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, is based on scientific principles and is not maintained without sufficient scientific evidence, except as provided for in paragraph 7 of Article 5.

3.  Members shall ensure that their sanitary and phytosanitary measures do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between Members where identical or similar conditions prevail, including between their own territory and that of other Members. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures shall not be applied in a manner which would constitute a disguised restriction on international trade.

4.  Sanitary or phytosanitary measures which conform to the relevant provisions of this Agreement shall be presumed to be in accordance with the obligations of the Members under the provisions of GATT 1994 which relate to the use of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, in particular the provisions of Article XX(b).

Article 3  Harmonization

1.  To harmonize sanitary and phytosanitary measures on as wide a basis as possible, Members shall base their sanitary or phytosanitary measures on international standards, guidelines or recommendations, where they exist, except as otherwise provided for in this Agreement, and in particular in paragraph 3.

2.  Sanitary or phytosanitary measures which conform to international standards, guidelines or recommendations shall be deemed to be necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health, and presumed to be consistent with the relevant provisions of this Agreement and of GATT 1994.

3.  Members may introduce or maintain sanitary or phytosanitary measures which result in a higher level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection than would be achieved by measures based on the relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations, if there is a scientific justification, or as a consequence of the level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection a Member determines to be appropriatein accordance with the relevant provisions of paragraphs 1 through 8 of Article 5.2 Notwithstanding the above, all measures which result in a level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection different from that which would be achieved by measures based on international standards, guidelines or recommendations shall not be inconsistent with any other provision of this Agreement.

4.  Members shall play a full part, within the limits of their resources, in the relevant international organizations and their subsidiary bodies, in particular the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics, and the international and regional organizations operating within the framework of the International Plant Protection Convention, to promote within these organizations the development and periodic review of standards, guidelines and recommendations with respect to all aspects of sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

5.  The Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures provided for in paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 12 (referred to in this Agreement as the "Committee") shall develop a procedure to monitor the process of international harmonization and coordinate efforts in this regard with the relevant international organizations.

Article 4  Equivalence

1.  Members shall accept the sanitary or phytosanitary measures of other Members as equivalent, even if these measures differ from their own or from those used by other Members trading in the same product, if the exporting Member objectively demonstrates to the importing Member that its measures achieve the importing Member's appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection. For this purpose, reasonable access shall be given, upon request, to the importing Member for inspection, testing and other relevant procedures.

2.  Members shall, upon request, enter into consultations with the aim of achieving bilateral and multilateral agreements on recognition of the equivalence of specified sanitary or phytosanitary measures.

Article 5  Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of Sanitary or Phytosanitary Protection

1.  Members shall ensure that their sanitary or phytosanitary measures are based on an assessment, as appropriate to the circumstances, of the risks to human, animal or plant life or health, taking into account risk assessment techniques developed by the relevant international organizations.

2.  In the assessment of risks, Members shall take into account available scientific evidence; relevant processes and production methods; relevant inspection, sampling and testing methods; prevalence of specific diseases or pests; existence of pest- or disease-free areas; relevant ecological and environmental conditions; and quarantine or other treatment.

3.  In assessing the risk to animal or plant life or health and determining the measure to be applied for achieving the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection from such risk, Members shall take into account as relevant economic factors: the potential damage in terms of loss of production or sales in the event of the entry, establishment or spread of a pest or disease; the costs of control or eradication in the territory of the importing Member; and the relative cost-effectiveness of alternative approaches to limiting risks.

4.  Members should, when determining the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection, take into account the objective of minimizing negative trade effects.

5.  With the objective of achieving consistency in the application of the concept of appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection against risks to human life or health, or to animal and plant life or health, each Member shall avoid arbitrary or unjustifiable distinctions in the levels it considers to be appropriate in different situations, if such distinctions result in discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. Members shall cooperate in the Committee, in accordance with paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Article 12, to develop guidelines to further the practical implementation of this provision. In developing the guidelines, the Committee shall take into account all relevant factors, including the exceptional character of human health risks to which people voluntarily expose themselves.

6.  Without prejudice to paragraph 2 of Article 3, when establishing or maintaining sanitary or phytosanitary measures to achieve the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection, Members shall ensure that such measures are not more trade-restrictive than required to achieve their appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection, taking into account technical and economic feasibility.3

7.  In cases where relevant scientific evidence is insufficient, a Member may provisionally adopt sanitary or phytosanitary measures on the basis of available pertinent information, including that from the relevant international organizations as well as from sanitary or phytosanitary measures applied by other Members. In such circumstances, Members shall seek to obtain the additional information necessary for a more objective assessment of risk and review the sanitary or phytosanitary measure accordingly within a reasonable period of time.

8.  When a Member has reason to believe that a specific sanitary or phytosanitary measure introduced or maintained by another Member is constraining, or has the potential to constrain, its exports and the measure is not based on the relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations, or such standards, guidelines or recommendations do not exist, an explanation of the reasons for such sanitary or phytosanitary measure may be requested and shall be provided by the Member maintaining the measure.

Article 6  Adaptation to Regional Conditions, Including Pest- or Disease-Free Areas and Areas of Low Pest or Disease Prevalence

1.  Members shall ensure that their sanitary or phytosanitary measures are adapted to the sanitary or phytosanitary characteristics of the area - whether all of a country, part of a country, or all or parts of several countries - from which the product originated and to which the product is destined. In assessing the sanitary or phytosanitary characteristics of a region, Members shall take into account, inter alia, the level of prevalence of specific diseases or pests, the existence of eradication or control programmes, and appropriate criteria or guidelines which may be developed by the relevant international organizations.

2.  Members shall, in particular, recognize the concepts of pest- or disease-free areas and areas of low pest or disease prevalence. Determination of such areas shall be based on factors such as geography, ecosystems, epidemiological surveillance, and the effectiveness of sanitary or phytosanitary controls.

3.  Exporting Members claiming that areas within their territories are pest- or disease-free areas or areas of low pest or disease prevalence shall provide the necessary evidence thereof in order to objectively demonstrate to the importing Member that such areas are, and are likely to remain, pestor disease-free areas or areas of low pest or disease prevalence, respectively. For this purpose, reasonable access shall be given, upon request, to the importing Member for inspection, testing and other relevant procedures.

Article 7  Transparency

Members shall notify changes in their sanitary or phytosanitary measures and shall provide information on their sanitary or phytosanitary measures in accordance with the provisions of Annex B.

Article 8  Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures

Members shall observe the provisions of Annex C in the operation of control, inspection and approval procedures, including national systems for approving the use of additives or for establishing tolerances for contaminants in foods, beverages or feedstuffs, and otherwise ensure that their procedures are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement.

Article 9  Technical Assistance

1.  Members agree to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to other Members, especially developing country Members, either bilaterally or through the appropriate international organizations. Such assistance may be, inter alia, in the areas of processing technologies, research and infrastructure, including in the establishment of national regulatory bodies, and may take the form of advice, credits, donations and grants, including for the purpose of seeking technical expertise, training and equipment to allow such countries to adjust to, and comply with, sanitary or phytosanitary measures necessary to achieve the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection in their export markets.

2.  Where substantial investments are required in order for an exporting developing country Member to fulfil the sanitary or phytosanitary requirements of an importing Member, the latter shall consider providing such technical assistance as will permit the developing country Member to maintain and expand its market access opportunities for the product involved.

Article 10  Special and Differential Treatment

1.  In the preparation and application of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, Members shall take account of the special needs of developing country Members, and in particular of the least-developed country Members.

2.  Where the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection allows scope for the phased introduction of new sanitary or phytosanitary measures, longer time-frames for compliance should be accorded on products of interest to developing country Members so as to maintain opportunities for their exports.

3.  With a view to ensuring that developing country Members are able to comply with the provisions of this Agreement, the Committee is enabled to grant to such countries, upon request, specified, time-limited exceptions in whole or in part from obligations under this Agreement, taking into account their financial, trade and development needs.

4.  Members should encourage and facilitate the active participation of developing country Members in the relevant international organizations.

Article 11  Consultations and Dispute Settlement

1.  The provisions of Articles XXII and XXIII of GATT 1994 as elaborated and applied by the Dispute Settlement Understanding shall apply to consultations and the settlement of disputes under this Agreement, except as otherwise specifically provided herein.

2.  In a dispute under this Agreement involving scientific or technical issues, a panel should seek advice from experts chosen by the panel in consultation with the parties to the dispute. To this end, the panel may, when it deems it appropriate, establish an advisory technical experts group, or consult the relevant international organizations, at the request of either party to the dispute or on its own initiative.

3.  Nothing in this Agreement shall impair the rights of Members under other international agreements, including the right to resort to the good offices or dispute settlement mechanisms of other international organizations or established under any international agreement.

Article 12  Administration

1.  A Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures is hereby established to provide a regular forum for consultations. It shall carry out the functions necessary to implement the provisions of this Agreement and the furtherance of its objectives, in particular with respect to harmonization. The Committee shall reach its decisions by consensus.

2.  The Committee shall encourage and facilitate ad hoc consultations or negotiations among Members on specific sanitary or phytosanitary issues. The Committee shall encourage the use of international standards, guidelines or recommendations by all Members and, in this regard, shall sponsor technical consultation and study with the objective of increasing coordination and integration between international and national systems and approaches for approving the use of food additives or for establishing tolerances for contaminants in foods, beverages or feedstuffs.

3.  The Committee shall maintain close contact with the relevant international organizations in the field of sanitary and phytosanitary protection, especially with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics, and the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention, with the objective of securing the best available scientific and technical advice for the administration of this Agreement and in order to ensure that unnecessary duplication of effort is avoided.

4.  The Committee shall develop a procedure to monitor the process of international harmonization and the use of international standards, guidelines or recommendations. For this purpose, the Committee should, in conjunction with the relevant international organizations, establish a list of international standards, guidelines or recommendations relating to sanitary or phytosanitary measures which the Committee determines to have a major trade impact. The list should include an indication by Members of those international standards, guidelines or recommendations which they apply as conditions for import or on the basis of which imported products conforming to these standards can enjoy access to their markets. For those cases in which a Member does not apply an international standard, guideline or recommendation as a condition for import, the Member should provide an indication of the reason therefor, and, in particular, whether it considers that the standard is not stringent enough to provide the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection. If a Member revises its position, following its indication of the use of a standard, guideline or recommendation as a condition for import, it should provide an explanation for its change and so inform the Secretariat as well as the relevant international organizations, unless such notification and explanation is given according to the procedures of Annex B.

5.  In order to avoid unnecessary duplication, the Committee may decide, as appropriate, to use the information generated by the procedures, particularly for notification, which are in operation in the relevant international organizations.

6.  The Committee may, on the basis of an initiative from one of the Members, through appropriate channels invite the relevant international organizations or their subsidiary bodies to examine specific matters with respect to a particular standard, guideline or recommendation, including the basis of explanations for non-use given according to paragraph 4.

7.  The Committee shall review the operation and implementation of this Agreement three years after the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement, and thereafter as the need arises. Where appropriate, the Committee may submit to the Council for Trade in Goods proposals to amend the text of this Agreement having regard, inter alia, to the experience gained in its implementation.

Article 13  Implementation

Members are fully responsible under this Agreement for the observance of all obligations set forth herein. Members shall formulate and implement positive measures and mechanisms in support of the observance of the provisions of this Agreement by other than central government bodies. Members shall take such reasonable measures as may be available to them to ensure that non-governmental entities within their territories, as well as regional bodies in which relevant entities within their territories are members, comply with the relevant provisions of this Agreement. In addition, Members shall not take measures which have the effect of, directly or indirectly, requiring or encouraging such regional or non-governmental entities, or local governmental bodies, to act in a manner inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement. Members shall ensure that they rely on the services of non-governmental entities for implementing sanitary or phytosanitary measures only if these entities comply with the provisions of this Agreement.

Article 14  Final Provisions

The least-developed country Members may delay application of the provisions of this Agreement for a period of five years following the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement with respect to their sanitary or phytosanitary measures affecting importation or imported products. Other developing country Members may delay application of the provisions of this Agreement, other than paragraph 8 of Article 5 and Article 7, for two years following the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement with respect to their existing sanitary or phytosanitary measures affecting importation or imported products, where such application is prevented by a lack of technical expertise, technical infrastructure or resources.

Source and copyright holder: World Trade Organization. Document reproduced with the permission of the World Trade Organization. OXIO headnotes are not official WTO commentaries.

Footnotes:

1  In this Agreement, reference to Article XX(b) includes also the chapeau of that Article.

2  For the purposes of paragraph 3 of Article 3, there is a scientific justification if, on the basis of an examination and evaluation of available scientific information in conformity with the relevant provisions of this Agreement, a Member determines that the relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations are not sufficient to achieve its appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection.

3  For purposes of paragraph 6 of Article 5, a measure is not more trade-restrictive than required unless there is another measure, reasonably available taking into account technical and economic feasibility, that achieves the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection and is significantly less restrictive to trade.