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Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and Technical barriers in trade

Sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures represent any sanitary, veterinary- sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements and procedures applied with the aims of:
  • life and health protection of animals and plants within the territory of the state from the risks occurring due to penetration, root taking or spreading the pests, diseases, hazardous organisms - germ carriers or pathogens;
  • life and health protection of people or animals within the territory of the state from the risks occurring due to supplements, contaminating substances, toxins or pathogens in food products, beverages or feeding-stuffs;
  • life and health protection of people within the territory of the state from the risks occurring due to diseases transmitted by animals, plants or products from them or due to penetration, root taking or spreading the pests; or
  • prevention or restriction of any damage within the territory of the state, caused with penetration, root taking or spreading the pests
Sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures in compliance with the regulation of the Article (b) of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade,1994, are regulated with a separate WTO Agreement on application of sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures.

Basic principles of WTO Agreement on application of sanitary and phyto-sanitary measuresare harmonization, equivalence, assessment and risks management, regionalization, transparency and scientific substantiation of applied measures.Customs Union follows the same principles upon application of sanitary, veterinary-sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures.

With the aim of harmonization of sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures in the possibly wide scale the countries base their sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures on international standards, directives or recommendations. Such sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures harmonized to international standards secure prerequisites of recognizing the measures equivalency of other countries.

It is necessary to provide that the basis of sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures shall be corresponding to circumstances risks assessment of people’s, animals or plants life and health, at that it shall be fulfilled with account of risk assessment methods having been elaborated by appropriate international organizations. Available scientific rationales are taken into consideration upon risks assessment; corresponding methods of production and processing; corresponding methods of inspection, samples selection and tests; extent of definite diseases and pests; availability of zones free from diseases or pests; appropriate ecological conditions and quarantine period , etc.

To observe transparency principleof transparency countries shall notify about amendments in their measures and submit the information on amendments in sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures exercising.

To implement regionalization principlethe countries secure that their sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures are accepted with account of sanitary and phyto-sanitary features of the region both of the whole country and its part, or of several countries or their parts the goods are originated from and for which the goods are designated. In particular there shall be recognized the concept of zones free from, pests and diseases and the zones with insufficient extent , of pests or diseases. Those zones are specified under such factors as: geography, ecosystem, epidemiological surveillance and efficiency of sanitary and phyto-sanitary control.

Technical barriers in trade are regulated in the frame of WTO with the Agreement on Technical Barriers in Trade (Agreement TBT). The Agreement specifies the provisions preventing the technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures developed by the states from creation of obstacles to international trade.

In compliance with TBT Agreement rules the technical regulations are the documents of obligatory nature, whereas standards are non-obligatory documents. The Agreement establishesThe Code of fair practiceon elaboration, approval and application of standards by central state bodies.

Conformity assessment procedures can be conventionally divided into two parts : products conformity assessment and assessment of the activity on conformity maintenance. The present procedures include testing, inspection, certification, metrology, calibration, attesting. At that obligation of member-countries upon recognizing the results of conformity assessment between the countries plays a significant role. Agreement distinguishes three methods: unilateral recognition, mutual recognition and agreement on voluntary recognition.

States enjoy the right to approve standards which they consider to be necessary for protection of people, animals, plants life and health, environment and as well citizens interests. For instance, in respect of protection of peoples life and health the TBT measures shall contain requirements to pharmaceuticals or to cigarettes pack labels. In respect of food products TBT establishes requirements to marking, information on the label, quality and packing of products.

The main principle to be observed by the countries upon exercising the technical regulations is and standards as well as upon carrying out conformity assessment procedures isthe non-discrimination principle.

WTO Commission on technical regulation has elaborated a number of principles which shall be obligatorily observed upon elaboration of international standards and recommendations:

  • Transparency;
  • Openness;
  • Impartiality and consensus;
  • Efficiency and relevancy;

  • Harmonization.