The 1995 WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) is concerned with trade and food safety regulation, and with the regulation of pests and diseases in agriculture. It establishes legal standards while affirming the right of each member to choose its own level of SPS protection. However, the question of whether the balance has been properly struck remains a matter of ongoing debate.
The Commentary provides a detailed update of the first edition authored by Joanne Scott in 2007. It reflects 15 years of change in SPS case law and practice. It critically examines current issues such as use of experts in the dispute settlement process, applicable standard of review, or legal treatment of private standards in food safety. Moreover, the Commentary assesses the suitability of the current regime to address the existing needs of developing countries
The commentary also examines how science-based criteria and the traditional GATT standards (non-discrimination and least-trade-restrictive means) are used to discipline national SPS measures. It explores the transparency obligations and procedural rules that govern control, inspection, and approval processes in importing countries. A separate section is dedicated to the operation of the SPS Committee as an arena for transnational governance in the SPS field. The book also investigates the agreement's attempt to establish a framework to draw together the diverse institutions and regulatory regimes already populating the food safety arena. Two new chapters are also included: one reviewing Article 5.7 SPS in greater detail, and one dealing with the SPS rules in selected regional trade agreements (the CETA, EU-Japan EPA, USMCA, RCEP, and CPTPP).
Commentator: Balázs Horváthy, Research Fellow, Institute for Legal Studies