The World Trade Organization (WTO) reported that it received 1,825 notifications of sanitary and phytosanitary regulations in 2021.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) requires notification of draft regulations that are not «substantially the same» as an international standard.
Also, other WTO members must be given sufficient time to submit comments on the notified draft regulation.
So notifications are an important demonstration of members’ commitment to transparency in their SPS measures.
In 2021, members notified 1,825 planned, new or amended SPS regulations, up from 2,122 the previous year.
Of these, 1,453 were regular notifications (down from 1,782 in 2020) and 372 were emergency notifications (up from 340 in 2020).
Developing countries (including least developed countries – LDCs) accounted for 70% of SPS notifications, compared to 71% in 2020.
Of the 439 WTO notifications and communications related to the Covid -19 pandemic, 27% were submitted under the SPS Agreement.
As in 2020, notifications and communications related to trade facilitation measures, or related to the extension of trade facilitation measures, continued to outnumber notifications and communications related to trade restrictive measures.
Examples of trade facilitation measures include temporary exemptions from on-site verification and testing requirements, and the temporary application of virtual verifications of packaging and processing facilities.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures sets out the rights and obligations of WTO members regarding measures taken to ensure food safety, protect human health from diseases spread by plants or animals, protect plant and animal health from pests and diseases, or prevent other damage caused by pests.
Governments must ensure that their sanitary and phytosanitary measures are necessary for the protection of health and are based on scientific principles.