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URUGUAY ROUND AGREEMENT

Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

(Article 12 — 14)

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> Article 1 General Provisions
> Article 2 Basic Rights and Obligations
> Article 3  Harmonization
> Article 4 Equivalence
> Article 5 Assessment of Risk and Determination of the Appropriate Level of Sanitary or Phytosanitary Protection
> Article 6 Adaptation to Regional Conditions, Including Pest- or Disease-Free Areas and Areas of Low Pest or Disease Prevalence
> Article 7 Transparency
> Article 8 Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures
> Article 9 Technical Assistance
> Article 10 Special and Differential Treatment
> Article 11 Consultations and Dispute Settlement
> Article 12 Administration
> Article 13 Implementation
> Article 14 Final Provisions
> Annex A  Definitions
    > Annex B Transparency Of Sanitary And Phytosanitary Regulations
  > Annex C Control, Inspection And Approval Procedures


Article 12: Administration back to top

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 back to top

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 back to top

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.


Annex A: Definitions (4) back to top

1.        Sanitary or phytosanitary measure — Any measure applied:

(a)        to protect animal or plant life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms;
 

(b)        to protect human or animal life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs;
 

(c)        to protect human life or health within the territory of the  Member from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests;  or
 

(d)        to prevent or limit other damage within the territory of the  Member from the entry, establishment or spread of pests. 

Sanitary or phytosanitary measures include all relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures including, inter alia, end product criteria;  processes and production methods;  testing, inspection, certification and approval procedures;  quarantine treatments including relevant requirements associated with the transport of animals or plants, or with the materials necessary for their survival during transport;  provisions on relevant statistical methods, sampling procedures and methods of risk assessment;  and packaging and labelling requirements directly related to food safety. 

2.        Harmonization — The establishment, recognition and application of common sanitary and phytosanitary measures by different Members.

3.        International standards, guidelines and recommendations

(a)        for food safety, the standards, guidelines and recommendations established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission relating to food additives, veterinary drug and pesticide residues, contaminants, methods of analysis and sampling, and codes and guidelines of hygienic practice;
 

(b)        for animal healthand zoonoses, the standards, guidelines and recommendations developed under the auspices of the International Office of Epizootics;

 

(c)        for plant health, the international standards, guidelines and recommendations developed 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;  and
 

(d)        for matters not covered by the above organizations, appropriate standards, guidelines and recommendations promulgated by other  relevant international organizations open for membership to all Members, as identified by the Committee.

4.        Risk assessment — The evaluation of the likelihood of entry,  establishment or spread of a pest or disease within the territory of an importing Member according to the sanitary or phytosanitary measures which might be applied, and of the associated potential biological and economic consequences; or the evaluation of the potential for adverse effects on human or animal health arising from the presence of additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in food, beverages or feedstuffs.

5.        Appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection — The level of protection deemed appropriate by the Member establishing a sanitary or phytosanitary measure to protect human, animal or plant life or health within its territory.  

NOTE:  Many Members otherwise refer to this concept as the “acceptable level of risk”.

6.        Pest- or disease-free area — An area, whether all of a country, part of a country, or all or parts of several countries, as identified by the competent authorities, in which a specific pest or disease does not occur.

NOTE:  A pest- or disease-free area may surround, be surrounded by, or be adjacent to an area — whether within part of a country or in a geographic region which includes parts of or all of several countries —in which a specific pest or disease is known to occur but is subject to regional control measures such as the establishment of protection, surveillance and buffer zones which will confine or eradicate the pest or disease in question.

7.        Area of low pest or disease prevalence — An area, whether all of a country, part of a country, or all or parts of several countries, as identified by the competent authorities, in which a specific pest or disease occurs at low levels and which is subject to effective surveillance, control or eradication measures.


Annex B: Transparency Of Sanitary And Phytosanitary Regulations back to top

Publication of regulations

1.        Members shall ensure that all sanitary and phytosanitary regulations(5) which have been adopted are published promptly in such a manner as to enable interested Members to become acquainted with them.

2.        Except in urgent circumstances, Members shall allow a reasonable interval between the publication of a sanitary or phytosanitary regulation and its entry into force in order to allow time for producers in exporting Members, and particularly in developing country Members, to adapt their products and methods of production to the requirements of the importing Member.

Enquiry points

3.        Each Member shall ensure that one enquiry point exists which is responsible for the provision of answers to all reasonable questions from interested Members as well as for the provision of relevant documents regarding:

(a)        any sanitary or phytosanitary regulations adopted or proposed within its territory;
 

(b)        any control and inspection procedures, production and quarantine treatment, pesticide tolerance and food additive approval procedures, which are operated within its territory;
 

(c)        risk assessment procedures, factors taken into consideration, as well as the determination of the appropriate level of sanitary or phytosanitary protection;
 

(d)        the membership and participation of the Member, or of relevant bodies within its territory, in international and regional sanitary and phytosanitary organizations and systems, as well as in bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements within the scope of this Agreement, and the texts of such agreements and arrangements.

4.        Members shall ensure that where copies of documents are requested by interested Members, they are supplied at the same price (if any), apart from the cost of delivery, as to the nationals(6) of the Member concerned.

Notification procedures

5.        Whenever an international standard, guideline or recommendation does  not exist or the content of a proposed sanitary or phytosanitary regulation is not substantially the same as the content of an international standard, guideline or recommendation, and if the regulation may have a significant effect on trade of other Members, Members shall:

(a)        publish a notice at an early stage in such a manner as to enable interested Members to become acquainted with the proposal to introduce a particular regulation;
 

(b)        notify other Members, through the Secretariat, of the products to be covered by the regulation together with a brief indication of the objective and rationale of the proposed regulation.  Such notifications shall take place at an early stage, when amendments can still be introduced and comments taken into account;
 

(c)        provide upon request to other Members copies of the proposed regulation and, whenever possible, identify the parts which in substance deviate from international standards, guidelines or recommendations;
 

(d)        without discrimination, allow reasonable time for other Members to make comments in writing, discuss these comments upon request, and take the comments and the results of the discussions into account.

6.        However, where urgent problems of health protection arise or threaten to arise for a Member, that Member may omit such of the steps enumerated in paragraph 5 of this Annex as it finds necessary, provided that the Member:

(a)        immediately notifies other Members, through the Secretariat, of the particular regulation and the products covered, with a brief indication of the objective and the rationale of the regulation, including the nature of the urgent problem(s);
 

(b)        provides, upon request, copies of the regulation to other Members;
 

(c)        allows other Members to make comments in writing, discusses these comments upon request, and takes the comments and the results of the discussions into account.

7.        Notifications to the Secretariat shall be in English, French or Spanish.

8.        Developed country Members shall, if requested by other Members, provide copies of the documents or, in case of voluminous documents, summaries of the documents covered by a specific notification in English, French or Spanish.

9.        The Secretariat shall promptly circulate copies of the notification to all Members and interested international organizations and draw the attention of developing  country Members to any notifications relating to products of particular interest to them.

10.        Members shall designate a single central government authority as responsible for the implementation, on the national level, of the provisions concerning notification procedures according to paragraphs 5, 6, 7 and 8 of this Annex.

General reservations

11.        Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as requiring:

(a)        the provision of particulars or copies of drafts or the publication of texts other than in the language of the Member except as stated in paragraph 8 of this Annex;  or
 

(b)        Members to disclose confidential information which would impede enforcement of sanitary or phytosanitary legislation or which would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular enterprises.


Annex C: Control, Inspection And Approval Procedures  (7) back to top

1.        Members shall ensure, with respect to any procedure to check and ensure the fulfilment of sanitary or phytosanitary measures, that:

(a)        such procedures are undertaken and completed without undue delay and in no less favourable manner for imported products than for like domestic products;
 

(b)        the standard processing period of each procedure is published or that the anticipated processing period is communicated to the applicant upon request;  when receiving an application, the competent body promptly examines the completeness of the documentation and informs the applicant in a precise and complete manner of all deficiencies;  the competent body transmits as soon as possible the results of the procedure in a precise and complete manner to the applicant so that corrective action may be taken if necessary;  even when the application has deficiencies, the competent body proceeds as far as practicable with the procedure if the applicant so requests;  and that upon request, the applicant is informed of the stage of the procedure, with any delay being explained;
 

(c)        information requirements are limited to what is necessary for appropriate control, inspection and approval procedures,  including for approval of the use of additives or for the establishment of tolerances for contaminants in food, beverages or feedstuffs;
 

(d)        the confidentiality of information about imported products arising from or supplied in connection with control, inspection and approval is respected in a way no less favourable than for domestic products and in such a manner that legitimate commercial interests are protected;
 

(e)        any requirements for control, inspection and approval of individual specimens of a product are limited to what is reasonable and necessary; 
 

(f)        any fees imposed for the procedures on imported products are equitable in relation to any fees charged on like domestic products or products originating in any other Member and should be no higher than the actual cost of the service;
 

(g)        the same criteria should be used in the siting of facilities used in the procedures and the selection of samples of imported products as for domestic products so as to minimize the inconvenience to applicants, importers, exporters or their agents; 
 

(h)        whenever specifications of a product are changed subsequent to its control and inspection in light of the applicable regulations, the procedure for the modified product is limited to what is necessary to determine whether adequate confidence exists that the product still meets the regulations concerned;  and
 

(i)        a procedure exists to review complaints concerning the operation of such procedures and to take corrective action when a complaint is justified.

Where an importing Member operates a system for the approval of the use of food additives or for the establishment of tolerances for contaminants in food, beverages or feedstuffs which prohibits or restricts access to its domestic markets for products based on the absence of an approval, the importing Member shall consider the use of a relevant international standard as the basis for access until a final determination is made.

2.        Where a sanitary or phytosanitary measure specifies control at the level of production, the Member in whose territory the production takes place shall provide the necessary assistance to facilitate such control and the work of the controlling authorities.

3.        Nothing in this Agreement shall prevent Members from carrying out reasonable inspection within their own territories.

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Notes:

4. For the purpose of these definitions, “animal” includes fish and wild fauna;  “plant” includes forests and wild flora;  “pests” include weeds;  and “contaminants” include pesticide and veterinary drug residues and extraneous matter. back to text

5. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures such as laws, decrees or ordinances which are applicable generally. back to text

6. When “nationals” are referred to in this Agreement, the term shall be deemed, in the case of a separate customs territory Member of the WTO, to mean persons, natural or legal, who are domiciled or who have a real and effective industrial or commercial establishment in that customs territory. back to text

7. Control, inspection and approval procedures include, inter alia, procedures for sampling, testing and certification. back to text