The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the "SPS Agreement") entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organization on 1 January 1995. It concerns the application of food safety and animal and plant health regulations.
I. OBJECTIVES OF THE SPS AGREEMENT
While recognizing the right of Members to adopt sanitary and phytosanitary measures when scientifically justified, the SPS Agreement is intended to ensure that such measures needed to protect the safety of food and animal or plant life or health are not applied in a manner which constitutes arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between Members (where the same conditions prevail) or a disguised restriction to international trade.
2. The role of SPS in food safety and trade
The SPS Agreement of the WTO, therefore, sets the tone for the role of SPS measures for governments to protect human, animal and plant life while ensuring that global trade is not unfairly hurt by these measures. The SPS Agreement forms the core on which SPS measures are introduced by governments to protect human, animal and plant life in their territories.
THE SPS AGREEMENT HAS THE STANDARDS CODE AS ITS PREDECESSOR. THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE TWO AGREEMENTS ARE THAT
1. The Standards Code was a Plurilateral Agreement, with 46 Signatories in 1994, with a Dispute Settlement Mechanism specific to this Agreement, covering TBT and some SPS measures and applicable to all products.
2. The SPS Agreement is a Multilateral Agreement, with 150 parties in 2007 (all WTO Members), a unified Dispute Settlement Mechanism under the DSU, and applying both to products and to related processes and production methods.
SCOPE OF THE SPS AGREEMENT
The SPS Agreement applies to all measures whose purpose is to protect, within the territory of the Member:
1. Animal and plant life or health from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, disease-carrying or disease-causing organisms;
2. Human or animal life or health from food-borne risks (risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs);
3. Human life or health from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof;
4. Member's territory from other damage arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests.
These measures include sanitary and phytosanitary measures taken to protect the health of fish and wild fauna, as well as of forests and wild flora, from the risks stated above.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SPS AND TBT AGREEMENT
The SPS and the TBT Agreements are mutually exclusive (Article 1.5 of the TBT Agreement).
1. The SPS Agreement covers all measures with a purpose to protect human or animal health from food-borne risks; human health from
animal or plant-carried diseases; animals and plants from pests or diseases; or to prevent other damage from pests.
2. The TBT Agreement covers all technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures regardless of their objectives, except when these are sanitary or phytosanitary measures as defined by Annex A of the SPS Agreement.
II. The objectives and functions of SPS secretariat
APEDA is mandated to promote exports of agricultural and processed foods from India by ensuring that exporters meet the standards. The 10-point "Assigned Functions" of the organization gives it the power to register exporters, ensure they conform to standards while exporting, inspect meat and meat products manufacturing plants, improve packaging and provide training.
The SPS secretariat would have the objective of ensuring that India's exports of agricultural and processed food products increases through a better understanding of the emerging international standards and regulations.
The SPS secretariat would have a two-pronged function to improve market access opportunities in global markets for India's agricultural and processed food products
The first to ensure that the SPS measures adopted in various countries do not hamper export of APEDA products from the country by helping exporters improve capabilities in meeting the SPS measures adopted by various countries that are in line with international standards.
The second to keep it informed on any measures adopted in other countries that are not in line with the SPS agreement and raise these issues with India's trade partners to remove any unfair barrier to exports from India.
III. Scope of work
The SPS secretariat would require a strong technical experts in all areas of India's agricultural and processed food exports from the country. The technical experts should have the ability to study the scientific standards, regulations food laws and also propose changes to standards, regulations & food laws in India so that India can tap new and advanced markets for agricultural exports. The secretariat should have the ability to understand various market access issues that emerge across the globe and identify ways to mitigate any problem that is faced by exporters.
III. Work profile for SPS Secretariat
1. To provide technical support to address SPS Notifications from WTO member countries.
2. To develop technology think tank to counter SPS issues
3.To facilitate Market Access for APEDA scheduled product
4.To prepare short term and long term action plan to address SPS notifications.
5.To orient farmers with the latest technology to produce primary food/raw material best suitable for processing & to counter SPS issues.
6.Active National SPS framework with clearly identified & implementable mechanisms for effective communication & Coordination.
7.To compile latest technology/process/package of practices etc to mitigate SPS issues.
We can address SPS notification in two ways:
- To counter the SPS Notification s academically with support of technical research and data.
- We may orient the farmers/producers as per the market specific importing guidelines (phyto-sanitary, environmental, labour, packaging, biotic and abiotic factors etc.)
- Following groups of subject matter specialist/technical experts are propped:-
1. Maximum Residue Limits (MRL)
(a) Plants & its processed products
(b) Animals & its processed products.
2. Health risk issue
(a) Animals (Zoonotic disease)
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