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Although in the 47 years of the previous GATT dispute resolution procedures, only one body has been sought to review health or plant health disputes, ten complaints about the new obligations were formally filed in the first three years of the SPS agreement. This is not surprising, because, for the first time, the agreement clarifies the basis for challenging health or plant health measures that limit trade and which may not be scientifically justified. The challenges included issues as varied as inspection and quarantine procedures, outbreaks, use-by data, the use of veterinary drugs in livestock, and disinfection treatments for beverages. Dispute resolution bodies were invited to review four of the complaints; other complaints have been or should be resolved after the mandatory bilateral consultation process. 4. The committee develops a procedure to monitor the international harmonization process and apply international standards, guidelines or recommendations. To this end, the Committee should draw up, in cooperation with the relevant international organizations, a list of international standards, guidelines or recommendations on health or plant health measures, which the Committee considers to have a significant impact on trade. The list should include members indicating those international standards, guidelines or recommendations that they apply as import conditions or which may have access to their markets for imported products on the basis of these standards. In cases where a member does not apply an international standard, directive or recommendation as a precondition for importation, the member should give an indication, particularly if he or she feels that the standard is not strict enough to ensure an appropriate level of health or plant health protection.
When a member reviews his position following the indication of the use of a standard, direction or recommendation as a precondition for importation, he or she should submit a declaration of amendment and inform the relevant secretariat and international organizations, unless such communication and declaration is made in accordance with Schedule B procedures. Governments are required to inform other countries of new or modified health and plant health protection requirements for trade. and the creation of offices (called “inquiring points”) to respond to requests for additional information on new or existing measures. They must also be open to monitoring how they enforce their food safety and animal and plant protection rules. The systematic transmission of information and the exchange of experiences between WTO member governments provide a better basis for national standards. This increased transparency also protects the interests of consumers and trading partners from protectionism hidden by unnecessary technical requirements.