International Food Standards and WTO Law

Mariela Maidana-Eletti

Abstract


Standards are used in all realms of human activity in order to specify the characteristics of a product, or its manufacture. In the process, they fulfil a range of functions, such as lowering risks, increasing trust and facilitating predictability in a given market. Standards reduce information costs for market players, which in turn allows for a more efficient functioning of the market. For international trade in foodstuffs, harmonisation of the wide variety of food standards is essential in order to facilitate the global food-sourcing trend. As traditional market access barriers are dismantled, non-tariff measures offer a tool for the potential protection of domestic products, thus calling for effective forms of food governance. This article explores the legal implications of international standards under the TBT Agreement in the light of the WTO Appellate Body’s case law. It further analyses the role played by international standard-setting organisations, such as the CAC and the ISO, in predicting the outcome of pending WTO disputes. Against this backdrop, this article also attempts to shed light on the current legal debate surrounding the use of private food standards within the SPS Committee.

Keywords


WTO, International Food Standards, TBT Agreement, CAC, ISO, SPS, international trade, market access

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2014vol19no2art435

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