Trade between countries drives economic development and many countries rely on exporting large quantities of agricultural and other plant products, such as fruit and vegetables or timber to sustain their economies. Other countries rely heavily on import of plant products such as staple crops to feed their population and need to assure themselves of adequate supplies while safeguarding their domestic agricultural production from pests and sustaining their ecosystem. Global trade offers unprecedented opportunities for plant pests to hitch a ride and potentially invade new areas. Therefore, it is important to facilitate trade but in a way that minimizes phytosanitary risks to either the importer or exporter.
Core to trade facilitation is the appropriate implementation of the IPPC and associated international standards. However, the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) cannot be appropriately implemented without the fundamental enabling environment created through the implementation of IPPC provisions. Once the foundations of a National Plant Protection Organization and legislative / regulatory framework for the NPPO are established, other component of a national phytosanitary system can be enabled. In addition, the appropriate use of use of new technologies, such as electronic phytosanitary certification, will facilitate trade while also ensuring that shipments of food and agricultural products do not pose pest risks.
The ISPMs are science-based and developed by IPPC contracting parties, and are recognized by the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), which aims to facilitate safe trade in food and agricultural products. ISPMs provide globally harmonized guidance for countries to minimize pest risk without creating unjustified barriers to trade, ultimately facilitating their exports and imports of plants and plant products. These standards include guidelines for Pest Risk Analysis (PRA), as the scientific basis for phytosanitary measures that are least restrictive to trade, or phytosanitary treatments to help ensure plant products are safe before entering another country.