WTO agreements on SPS and TBT: implications for food quality issues
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Trade liberalization, hoped to be achieved through WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is expected to lead to export promotion and import substitution opportunities for Indian food sector. However, these opportunities cannot be exploited unless serious attention is paid to two important WTO agreements – Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Due to the ‘experience’ and ‘credence’ nature of food products, trading partners impose import restrictions based on food safety and quality concerns. These concerns are legitimised by SPS and TBT agreements. Hence, to obtain maximum possible benefit from these agreements, India will have to improve its safety and quality norms to match the Codex standards and participate effectively in Codex standard setting meetings. Moreover, it must ask for substantial amendments to some of the articles of these agreements which seem discriminatory in nature. Finally, India will have to strengthen import monitoring mechanisms so that domestic food and phytosanitary laws are effectively applied to imported food items.
- Working Papers