The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) aims to ensure that technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade. However, it recognizes that each Member should not be prevented from taking measures necessary to protect human, animal and plant life or health, or the environment, and that each country has the right to define the level of protection that it deems appropriate in these areas. The Agreement encourages Members to use international standards where these are available, but it does not require them to harmonize their domestic regulations and standards upwards or downwards as a result of international standardization activities. This Agreement is subject to the same principles as the GATT, that is, Articles I and III are its cornerstone, and exceptions, in Article XX, also apply to it.1 This Agreement incorporates a Code of Good Practices that has been developed for voluntary standards on the basis of 'best endeavour'.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) addresses a variety of measures used by governments to ensure that human and animal food is safe from contaminants, toxins, disease-causing organisms and additives. It also provides measures to protect human health from pests or diseases carried by plants and animals. The TBT Agreement does not cover these measures. The SPS Agreement explicitly recognizes the right of governments to take measures to protect human, animal and plant health in their countries; but where trade restrictions result, these measures should be taken only to the extent necessary for health protection, on the basis of scientific principles and evidence. If there is insufficient scientific evidence, governments may temporarily impose precautionary restrictions while they seek further information. Governments are to determine the level of health protection they consider to be appropriate on the basis of an evaluation of the risks involved. SPS measures are to be applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Furthermore, if there are a number of measures which could be used to ensure the determined level of health protection, governments are to use those which are no more trade restrictive
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Publication information: Book title: Environmental Regulation and Food Safety: Studies of Protection and Protectionism. Contributors: Veena Jha - AssociateEditor, Edward Elgar - AssociateEditor. Publisher: International Development Research Center. Place of publication: Ottawa. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 14.
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