food safety | sanitary and phytosanitary standards
Australia is fortunate to be one of few countries to remain free of BSE, the degenerative
brain disease in cattle that causes the deadly variant CJD in people. But the Free Trade
Agreement recently signed with the United States may change this.
While the main
US goal on agriculture in many FTA
negotiations often is to secure non-SPS
related concessions such as lower tariffs,
the foreign partners often see the FTA as
an opportunity to resolve outstanding
SPS issues with the US as well as seek
accelerated new market access to the US
for their animal and plant products.
Australia has always enjoyed rigorous national food standards that were applied equally to both domestically produced and imported food. The capacity to maintain and apply these standards, however, is now being undermined by international trade agreements and procedures for settling trade disputes with a result that challenges to public health are being significantly increased.
Sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) are receiving increasing attention within the framework of international trade. SPS measures are meant to ensure that imports do not undermine national health and safety.