IPPC and International Trade

enter image description here DC Nowell

The IPPC has always played an important role in international trade. The Convention has encouraged countries to ensure through phytosanitary certification that their exports are not the means for introducing new pests to their trading partners. Likewise importing countries strive to ensure that measures they have in place for protection are technically justified.

The relationship of the IPPC to international trade is strengthened by the WTO-SPS Agreement which names the IPPC as the international organization responsible for phytosanitary standard-setting and the harmonization of phytosanitary measures affecting trade. Both agreements are distinct in their scope purpose and membership. Neither agreement is supplementary to the other. Instead they are complementary in the areas where they overlap. The SPS Agreement makes provision for plant protection in a trade agreement and the IPPC makes provision for trade in a protection agreement.

The IPPC is a legally binding international agreement but the standards developed and adopted by the Convention are not legally binding under the IPPC. However WTO members are required to base their phytosanitary measures on international standards developed within the framework of the IPPC. Phytosanitary measures that conform to the ISPMs are presumed to be consistent with the relevant provisions of the SPS Agreement. Measures that deviate from international standards or measures that exist in the absence of international standards must be developed through the assessment of the risk to plant life or health and must be based on scientific principles and evidence. Emergency (or provisional) measures may be taken without such analyses but must be reviewed in a timely manner for their scientific justification and modified accordingly to be legitimately maintained.

The IPPC also has dispute settlement procedures in the instance where measures may be challenged as unjustified barriers to trade. The dispute settlement process under the IPPC offers possibilities for examining controversial issues at a technical level. Although the dispute settlement process in the IPPC is non-binding the results of the process can be expected to have substantial influence in disputes that may be raised to the WTO level under the SPS Agreement.The IPPC has always played an important role in international trade. The Convention has encouraged countries to ensure through phytosanitary certification that their exports are not the means for introducing new pests to their trading partners. Likewise importing countries strive to ensure that measures they have in place for protection are technically justified.