One of the provisions of the SPS agreement is the obligation for members to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to developing countries, either through relevant international organizations 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 head The decision to start the Uruguay Round trade negotiations was made after years of public debate, including debate within national governments. The decision to negotiate an agreement on the application of sanitary and plant health measures was taken in 1986 at the beginning of the cycle.
The SPS negotiations were opened to the 124 governments that participated in the Uruguay Round. Many governments were represented by their food safety or animal health officers. Negotiators also drew on the expertise of international technical organizations such as FAO, the code and the OIE. The technical agreement to combat trade includes all technical rules, standards and optional procedures to ensure compliance, unless they are sanitary or plant health measures within the meaning of the SPS agreement. It is therefore the nature of the measure that determines whether it falls under the OBT agreement, but the purpose of the measure, which is relevant to determining whether a measure is subject to the SPS convention. The WTO secretariat has prepared this text to promote public understanding of the SPS agreement. There are no plans to provide for a legal interpretation of the agreement. (2) Where significant investments are required to enable a member of an exporting country to meet the health or plant health requirements of an importing member, the member plans to provide technical assistance to enable the member of the developing country to maintain and expand its market access opportunities for the product concerned.
1. Members ensure that their health or plant health measures are adapted to the sanitary or plant health characteristics of the area, whether it is a country, part of a country or, in whole or in part, several countries from which the product originates and for which the product is intended.