The WTO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)

Collaboration between WTO and OIE concerns the use of international standards in the context of the SPS Agreement.



See also:
> OIE website

Note: The World Organization for Animal Health was originally called the Office International des Epizooties, and is referred to as such in the SPS Agreement

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The WTO's SPS Agreement states that “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”. The Agreement names the OIE as the relevant organization for animal health.

> A formal cooperation between OIE and WTO was agreed in July 1998 WT/L/272

> See SPS Agreement Introduction, Article 12.3 and Annex A paragraph 3(a)back to top

The OIE  

The World Organization for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties (OIE)) is the world organisation for animal health recognized by the SPS Agreement. Founded in 1924, the OIE has six main missions:

  • To ensure transparency in the global animal disease situation
  • To collect, analyse and disseminate veterinary scientific information
  • To provide expertise and encourage international solidarity in the control of animal diseases
  • Within its mandate under the WTO SPS Agreement, to safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products
  • To improve the legal framework and resources of national Veterinary Services
  • To provide a better guarantee of food of animal origin and to promote animal welfare through a science-based approach

These missions are achieved through different activities including the establishment of standards, guidelines and recommendations pertaining to animal health. Examples of the OIE work in this area include the following:

  • International Animal Health Code (for mammals, birds and bees)
  • International Aquatic Animal Health Code (for fish, molluscs and crustaceans), and Manual for Aquatic Animal Diseases
  • Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines

The above-mentioned Codes as well as their associated Manuals are designed as reference documents to be used by the veterinary administrations or the competent authorities of the member countries, to assist them in establishing the health regulations that their countries should apply to the import and export of live animals and animal products, so that the spreading of pathogens responsible for diseases to other animals or to human beings is avoided.

In addition to recommendations specific to diseases, the OIE has also developed general principles relating to risk analysis methodology, which is comprised of four components, namely import risk assessment, assessment of veterinary services, zoning/regionalisation, and surveillance and monitoring.

As scientific knowledge on disease agents and their ways of diffusion increases every day, new diagnostic techniques become available, and control methods become more refined, the OIE Codes and Manuals are revised. For the development of OIE recommendations, the procedures within the OIE encourage the active participation of countries in drawing up the rules that will apply both to others and to themselves. These recommendations are established by consensus by members’ chief veterinary officers.

The standards of OIE have also proved an important reference point for the dispute settlement mechanisms of the WTO e.g. Australia — Measures Affecting Importation of Salmon DS18.

The OIE headquarter is located in Paris, France.

> For more information, visit the OIE website at


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The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), is a joint initiative of the WTO, World Bank, FAO, World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. It aims to assist developing countries establish and implement SPS standards to ensure health protection and facilitate trade expansion. It also aims to act as a forum for coordination and information sharing on SPS-related technical assistance.

> STDF website

WTO Secretariat note: Relationship with Codex, IPPC and OIE  G/SPS/GEN/775