Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) intends to introduce legislation today to establish trade negotiating objectives for the United States with respect to the application of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures for agricultural products to facilitate foreign trade in agriculture. As the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy grows, there are continued reports that non science-based SPS measures are restricting trade, acting as non-tariff barriers to trade.
"SPS measures are increasingly being improperly used to protect domestic markets with one recent example being Russia's refusal to import American sheepskins over the last month," said Nunes. "The situation will only get worse as tariffs are further reduced. Thus, it is absolutely imperative that the United States work to secure the best possible SPS provisions."
The act, called the Agricultural Trade Facilitation Act, works to strengthen the requirement that the application of measures be based on scientific evidence by requiring parties to make their risk assessments available and to provide a science-based justification. It also calls for increased regulatory coherence and use of system-based approaches and an agreement by the parties to evaluate on a timely basis the health and safety protection systems of other parties and to allow imports of products if the system of the exporting party meets or exceeds the end-product standards of the importer.
The legislation would require parties to carry out risk analysis in a timely manner consistent with the guidelines developed by relevant international organizations, to ensure that risk assessments are based on the most relevant scientific data, to require the parties to consider the full range of risk management options, to ensure that the measures are no more trade-restrictive than necessary to meet the intended purpose and to require effective risk communication.
Finally, the act would ensure the SPS trade measures are fully enforceable through a more efficient and effective dispute settlement process.
SPS measures are those designed to protect human, animal or plant life or health from risks arising from additives, contaminants, pests, toxins, diseases or disease-carrying and causing organisms in foods, beverages, feedstuffs, animals or plants.
The American Sheep Industry Association supports Nunes and the introduction of the Agricultural Trade Facilitation Act.