Sanitary and phytosanitary measures WTO - SPS measures is about ensuring safe trade without unnecessary restrictions.
Making sure that food is traded safely and that animal and plant pests or diseases are not spread through trade means that import restrictions are sometimes required.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) seeks to strike a balance between the right of WTO members to protect health and the need to allow the smooth flow of goods across international borders.
The Agreement recognizes the right of WTO members to adopt legitimate measures to protect food safety and animal and plant health while ensuring these measures are not applied in an unnecessary manner for protectionist purposes.
The SPS Agreement encourages WTO members to base their regulations on the health and safety standards developed by the three relevant international expert bodies, namely the Codex Alimentarius Commission (for food safety), the International Plant Protection Convention (for plant health) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (for animal health and animal diseases transmittable to humans). WTO members who want to impose more stringent requirements must be able to justify these measures based on a scientific assessment of health risks.
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