The Office of Agricultural Affairs is responsible for negotiations and policy coordination regarding SPS and agricultural TBT measures.
SPS measures are defined by the World Trade Organization as, “Any measure applied:
(a) to protect animal or plant life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms;
(b) to protect human or animal life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs;
(c) to protect human life or health within the territory of the Member from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; or
(d) to prevent or limit other damage within the territory of the Member from the entry, establishment or spread of pests.
Sanitary or phytosanitary measures include all relevant laws, decrees, regulations, requirements and procedures including, inter alia, end product criteria; processes and production methods; testing, inspection, certification and approval procedures; quarantine treatments including relevant requirements associated with the transport of animals or plants, or with the materials necessary for their survival during transport; provisions on relevant statistical methods, sampling procedures and methods of risk assessment; and packaging and labeling requirements directly related to food safety.”
Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Annex A.1 (available here).
The United States supports SPS measures taken by governments to protect their people, animals and plants from health risks. Unfortunately, governments often seek to disguise measures that are discriminatory, unduly burdensome, or not based on scientific evidence as legitimate SPS measures. These measures create significant barriers to U.S. agricultural exports, and USTR is committed to identifying and removing these barriers.
TBT measures are non-tariff trade barriers that can take the form of product standards, testing requirements, and other technical requirements. As tariff barriers to industrial and agricultural trade have fallen, standards-related measures of this kind have emerged as a key concern. USTR actively seeks the prevention and removal of technical barriers to trade.