Evaluating effects of world trade agreements on national protection standards

Legitimate objectives for national protection standards include national security requirements, prevention of deceptive practices, and the protection of human health or safety, animal, plant life or health, or the environment. A state may deviate from international standards where they would be ineffective or inappropriate for the fulfilment of the legitimate objective. States are permitted to maintain higher standards if they are scientifically justified or required by the member's own unilaterally determined higher level of protection.

The [Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade] (TBT) and the [Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures] (SPS) were both part of the WTO Agreements, and came into force on 1 January 1995. Both agreements seek to ensure that regulations, standards, and conformity assessment procedures do not act as barriers to trade. For the SPS, measures must be necessary for the protection of human, animal, plant life or health, and not more trade-restrictive than required to achieve the appropriate level of protection. The [SPS Agreement] permits interim measures that are based on the precautionary principle.

1. WTO members should maintain their authority to adopt technical stands or other measures to protect environmental quality and public health. However, any WTO member can challenge these measures, with the burden being on the respondent state to justify its action.

2. The [SPS Agreement] has been used to challenge national health and safety laws. It must be amended to guarantee the ability of national governments to take strong national measures based on the precautionary principle and to maintain measures that exceed international standards.

3. National government's ability to maintain and further develop high national environmental protection standards and to determine appropriate levels of risk for their citizens should not be undermined.

Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions