SPS Agreement in the Era of Private Standards Proliferation: Its Functions and Limitations in Global Food Safety Governance

SPS Agreement in the Era of Private Standards Proliferation: Its Functions and Limitations in Global Food Safety Governance

 

Title
SPS Agreement in the Era of Private Standards Proliferation: Its Functions and Limitations in Global Food Safety Governance
Author
Pei-Kan Yang
Keywords
Private Standard, Food Safety, SPS Agreement,
International Trade, Risk Assessment, Risk Management,
Global Governance, WTO
Abstract
There have been a series of domestic or international events negatively involved
with food safety and public health concerns in recent years. With the liberalization
of international trade, the impact has gained its serious magnitude to invoke
public attention on global food safety governance. As the consumer welfare
and benefits becoming the major consideration in shaping business policy, various
kinds of private standards have been formulated and followed by many food retailers
to satisfy consumers’ demand for a safer and healthier supply of food or
agricultural products. Despite being voluntary (not legally mandatory) in nature,
these private standards will in fact determine certain products’ access to the market.
With the dominance of these private standards, small or medium size suppliers
or producers had a hard time getting their products certified by institutions recognized by private standard setting bodies. Many WTO Members, especially developing
country Members, have expressed their concern of private standards over possible
trade-restrictive effect since 2005 in the SPS Committees, and continued to
discuss this issue in several occasions. Given the agricultural and food trade constituted
a major part of international trade, we should also look into this issue for our
own benefits. This article aims at examining the impact of private standards on international
trade system and the role of SPS Agreement in the era of private standard
proliferation, including the applicability of SPS Agreement to regulate private
standards. Moreover, the article tries to explore the function and limitation of SPS
Agreement in dealing with the global food safety issues along with the possible
reactions or options WTO Members or the SPS Committee may take to ease the
trade concern over private standards.
Abstract Article

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