The transparency provisions of the SPS Convention are intended to make the public and interested trading partners aware of measures to protect human, animal and plant health. The agreement obliges governments to publish all sanitary and phytosanitary provisions without delay and, at the request of another government, to provide explanations on the reasons for a specific food safety or animal or plant health requirement. The WTO secretariat has prepared this text to promote public understanding of the SPS Agreement. The intention is not to allow a legal interpretation of the agreement. TBT Technical barriers to trade as addressed in the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. References to the previous GATT agreement, which bear the same name, are labeled “1979” who benefits from the implementation of the SPS agreement? Is the agreement in the interests of developing countries? This introduction examines the text of the SPS Agreement as contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, signed in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994. This Agreement, as well as other agreements contained in the Final Act, form part of the Treaty establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as amended (GATT 1994). The WTO replaced the GATT as the umbrella organization for international trade. While a number of developing countries have excellent food safety and veterinary and phytosanitary services, others do not. For them, the requirements of the SPS Convention pose a challenge to improving the health situation of their population, livestock and crops, which can be difficult for some to meet.
Because of these difficulties, the SPS Agreement delayed all requirements, with the exception of transparency (notification and establishment of contact points), until 1997 for developing countries and until 2000 for least developed countries. This means that these countries are not required to scientifically justify their sanitary or phytosanitary requirements before that date. Countries that need longer periods, for example to improve their veterinary services or to implement specific obligations under the Agreement, may request the SPS Committee to grant them further delays. The scope of the two agreements is different. The SPS Agreement includes all measures to protect: a special committee has been set up within the WTO as a forum for the exchange of information between member governments on all aspects related to the implementation of the SPS Agreement. The SPS Committee verifies compliance with the agreement, examines issues that may have an impact on trade and maintains close cooperation with the relevant technical organisations. . . .