Sanitary and phytosanitary measures

Problem: How do you ensure that your country’s consumers are being supplied with food that is safe to eat — “safe” by the standards you consider appropriate? And at the same time, how can you ensure that strict health and safety regulations are not being used as an excuse for protecting domestic producers?

An agreement on how governments can apply food safety and animal and plant health measures (sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures) sets out the basic rules in the WTO.

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Introduction

The mandate 

Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures 

The SPS Committee is the forum where WTO members discuss issues related to the implementation of the SPS Agreement and potential trade concerns. All decisions are reached by consensus. Information on the chairs of the SPS Committee can be found here.

Members’ transparency toolkit

Transparency is a core principle in the WTO. According to Article 7 of the SPS Agreement, 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. This page contains all the relevant information for members’ transparency work in SPS.

Useful tools

  • eAgenda
    By requesting access to eAgenda, Members can add points to the Committee agenda, raise and support specific trade concerns (STCs), and upload statements ahead of Committee meetings.
  • SPS Notification Submission System
    National Notification Authorities can now use the SPS Notification Submission System (SPS NSS) to fill out and submit SPS notifications online.

    The SPS NSS allows for more accurate and complete notifications, and a substantial reduction in the time required for the WTO to process and circulate them. The system has been available to Members since 1 June 2011 upon request.
    Interested Members are requested to send an e-mail to the Secretariat (spscommittee@wto.org) so that their National Notification Authorities can receive login names and access passwords.

    As of 7 July 2021, 97 Members have requested and been given access to the system, and 62 of these have officially submitted notifications via the SPS NSS.

  • SPS Information Management System
    a database of WTO information on SPS (Notifications, concerns raised, other documents, enquiry points, etc)
  • ePing SPS & TBT Notification Alert System

    By registering on ePing, users can receive daily or weekly email alerts containing SPS/TBT notifications covering products/markets of interest to them.

  • Overview of SPS transparency tools detailed in the Practical Manual

  • List of WTO online systems

Disputes

Standard-setting bodies and other observer organizations

Which are the relevant standard-setting organizations for the SPS Agreement?

Other observer organizations

Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)

A joint initiative of the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Organization for Animal Health and Food and Agriculture Organization for enhancing developing countries’ capacity to meet SPS standards. Work includes sharing information on technical cooperation, and finance for projects. For more information, please read the STDF's newsletter.