Measures relating to environmental protection (other than those defined above), the protection of consumer interests or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS Agreement. However, other WTO agreements (e.g. B the EPO or Article XX of the GATT 1994) will allay these concerns. The two agreements have a number of elements in common, including core non-discrimination obligations and similar requirements for prior notification of proposed measures and the establishment of information offices (“en-information points”). However, many of the material rules are different. For example, both agreements promote the application of international standards. However, according to the SPS Convention, the only justification for the absence of such standards for food safety and the protection of animal and plant health is the scientific argument resulting from an assessment of potential health risks. On the other hand, under the OBT, governments may decide that international standards are not appropriate for other reasons, including fundamental technological problems or geographical factors. All governments of WTO member states must have an information service, an office designated to receive and respond to requests for information on that country`s sanitary and phytosanitary measures. Such requests may be copies of new or existing rules, information on relevant agreements between two countries or information on risk assessment decisions. The addresses of the contact points can be found here. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures can naturally lead to trade restrictions. All governments accept that certain trade restrictions may be necessary to ensure food safety and the protection of animal and plant health.
However, governments are sometimes pressured to go beyond what is necessary to protect health and use sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions to protect domestic producers from economic competition. This pressure is expected to increase, as other barriers to trade will be removed as a result of the Uruguay Round agreements. A sanitary or phytosanitary restriction, which is not necessary for health reasons, can be a very effective means of protectionism and, because of its technical complexity, a particularly misleading and difficult obstacle to challenge. With the adoption of the WTO agreement, governments agreed to be bound by the rules of all related multilateral trade agreements, including the SPS Agreement. In the event of a trade dispute, WTO dispute settlement procedures (click here for an introduction, click here for more details) encourage the governments concerned to find a mutually acceptable bilateral solution through formal consultations. If governments are unable to resolve their dispute, they can opt for one of the many means of dispute resolution, including the right services, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. . . .