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 the Top Can national food safety and plant protection laws be challenged by other countries? Can private institutions raise trade disputes with the WTO? How are disputes resolved in the WTO? (b) the standard processing period for each procedure is published or the expected processing period is communicated to the applicant upon request; Upon receipt of an application, the relevant body promptly verifies the completeness of the file and informs the applicant, in a precise and complete manner, of any irregularities; The competent authority communicates the results of the procedure to the applicant as soon as possible in a precise and complete manner, in order to enable corrective action to be taken, if necessary; even if the application is defective, the appropriate agency will continue, as far as possible, the procedure if the applicant requests it; Applicant to be informed, at his request, of the status of the proceedings, specifying each delay; Agricultural exporters in all countries benefit from the removal of unjustified barriers to their products. The SPS agreement reduces uncertainty about terms of sale to a given market. Efforts to produce safe food for another market should not be thwarted by provisions adopted for protectionist purposes under the guise of sanitary measures.
Member States are invited to apply international standards, guidelines and recommendations, if necessary. However, members may take steps leading to higher standards for scientific reasons. They can also set higher standards on the basis of an appropriate risk assessment, provided the approach is consistent and not arbitrary.