TBT Technical barriers to trade as addressed in the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. References to the previous GATT Agreement, bearing the same name, are given the name of the 1979 OBT Agreement because of climatic differences, existing harmful organisms or food safety diseases or conditions, it is not always appropriate to impose the same sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for food, animal products or plant products from different countries. As a result, sanitary and phytosanitary measures sometimes vary depending on the country of origin of the food, animal or plant concerned. This is taken into account in the SPS agreement. Governments should also recognize compensated areas that may not correspond to political boundaries and appropriately adapt their requirements to products from these regions. However, the agreement examines unjustified discrimination in the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, whether in favour of domestic producers or foreign suppliers. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures can naturally lead to trade restrictions. All governments accept that certain trade restrictions may be necessary to ensure food safety and the protection of animal and plant health. However, governments are sometimes pressured to go beyond what is necessary to protect health and use sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions to protect domestic producers from economic competition. This pressure is expected to increase, as other barriers to trade will be removed as a result of the Uruguay Round agreements. A sanitary or phytosanitary restriction, which is not necessary for health reasons, can be a very effective means of protectionism and, because of its technical complexity, a particularly misleading and difficult obstacle to challenge. The two agreements have a number of elements in common, including core non-discrimination obligations and similar requirements for prior notification of proposed measures and the establishment of information offices (“en-information points”).
However, many of the material rules are different. For example, both agreements promote the application of international standards. However, according to the SPS Convention, the only justification for the absence of such standards for food safety and the protection of animal and plant health is the scientific argument resulting from an assessment of potential health risks. On the other hand, under the OBT, governments may decide that international standards are not appropriate for other reasons, including fundamental technological problems or geographical factors. While a number of developing countries have excellent food safety and veterinary and phytosanitary services, others do not. For them, the requirements of the SPS Convention pose a challenge to improving the health situation of their population, livestock and crops, which can be difficult to meet for some. . . .