Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

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.

> 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.
> SPS Information Management System
a database of WTO information on SPS (Notifications, concerns raised, other documents, enquiry points, etc)

> Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)
Technical barriers to trade 

Whose international standards?

Which are the relevant standard-setting organizations for the SPS Agreement? An annex to the agreement names:

the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission: for food

World Organization for Animal Health

the FAO’s Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention: for plant health.

> See also FAO and WHO




SPS news  back to top

Includes unofficial and less technical summaries of SPS Committee meetings

> See also Work on SPS in the WTO, below


Introduction  back to top


The mandate  back to top


Work on SPS in the WTO, and official documents  back to top

Work on this subject is handled by the SPS Committee, which reports to the Goods Council. The work is officially recorded in the committee’s annual reports to the General Council and in summary reports (equivalent to minutes) of the committee’s meetings. The current chair is .

Search here for SPS documents

Subscribe here to receive all unrestricted SPS documents by e-mail, usually twice a week, normally only in the original language (English, French or Spanish).


Members’ transparency toolkit  back to top

Notification formats, handbooks, links to members’ SPS websites and other aids for members’ transparency work in SPS.


Events, workshops and training  back to top

Find information on planned and recently held activities.


Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)  back to top

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.


External links  back to top

Find links to relevant standard setting bodies, FAO's SPS Portal, observer organizations, etc.


> 4th Review-Questionnaire on Transparency


> Thematic SPS Workshop on risk analysis


> Agreement on a new mediation procedure to solve SPS-related issues


> TF vs SPS: Find out more about the relationship between the TF and SPS Agreements in this brief informal note prepared by the WTO Secretariat
More information on the TF web page


> Dates of meetings of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures for 2015


> SPS Technical Assistance Activities for 2015


> Final Report: STDF Mid-Term Review


Specific Trade Concerns 1995-2013 report

SPS TA courses


March 2015 SPS Committee Meeting

> Agenda

> Documents


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 ( so that their National Notification Authorities can receive login names and access passwords.

As of 24 February 2015, 62 Members have requested and been given access to the system, and 32 of these have officially submitted notifications via the SPS NSS.


List of disputes citing the SPS agreement