In adopting the WTO agreement, governments have agreed to be bound by the rules of all multilateral trade agreements attached to it, including the SPS agreement. In the event of a trade dispute, WTOs dispute resolution procedures (click here for an introduction, click here for more details) encourage the governments concerned to find a mutually acceptable bilateral solution through formal consultations. If governments are unable to resolve their dispute, they may choose to follow one of the different ways of resolving disputes, including good offices, conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Another government may request the creation of an impartial body of trade experts to hear from all parties to the dispute and make recommendations. The scope of the two agreements is different. The SPS Convention includes all measures for protection: a provision of the SPS agreement is the obligation for members to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to developing countries, either through relevant international organisations or at the bilateral level. FAO, OIE and WHO have implemented important food, animal and plant security assistance programmes to developing countries. A number of countries also have important bilateral programmes with other WTO members in these areas. The WTO secretariat has organised a programme of regional seminars to provide developing countries (and Central and Eastern European countries) with detailed information on the rights and obligations conferred on them by this agreement.
These seminars are organized in collaboration with Codex, OIE and IPPC to ensure that governments are aware of the role these organizations can play in helping countries meet their needs and to take full advantage of the benefits of the SPS agreement. The seminars are open to the participation of private professional associations and consumer organisations. The WTO secretariat also provides technical assistance through national workshops and governments through their representatives in Geneva. Back to the Top Health and plant health measures can only be imposed to the extent necessary to protect human, animal or plant health on the basis of scientific information. However, governments can introduce OBT rules where necessary to achieve a number of objectives, such as national security or the prevention of deceptive practices. Since the commitments made by governments are different under the two agreements, it is important to know whether a measure is a health or plant health measure or a measure subject to the OBT agreement. Measures relating to environmental protection (with the exception of those mentioned above), consumer protection or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS agreement. However, these concerns are addressed by other WTO agreements (i.e.
the OBT agreement or Article XX of the 1994 GATT). During the Tokyo Multilateral Trade Negotiations Round (1974-1979), an agreement on technical barriers to trade was negotiated (the 1979 tBT agreement or „standardization code“) (see note 2). Although not originally designed to regulate sanitary and plant health measures, the agreement covered technical requirements arising from food safety and plant health and plant health measures, including pesticide residue limits, inspection requirements and labelling. Governments that were members of the 1979 OBT agreement agreed to apply relevant international standards (for example. B those developed by the Food Safety Code), unless they felt that these standards would not adequately protect health. They also agreed to inform other governments, through the GATT secretariat, of technical regulations that are not based on international standards. The 1979 TBT agreement contained provisions for the settlement of commercial disputes arising from the application of food security and other technical restrictions.