SPS Agreement: Technical Assistance By WTO Members (Art. 9)

Under Article 9, Members agree to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to other Members, especially developing county Members, either bilaterally or through the appropriate international organizations.  Such assistance may be, inter alia, in the areas of processing technologies, research and infrastructure, including in the establishment of national regulatory bodies…to allow such countries to adjust to, and comply with measures necessary to achieve the appropriate level of SPS protection in their export markets.  Furthermore, the Doha Ministerial Decision on Implementation-related Issues and Concerns, urges members to provide, to the extent possible, the financial and technical assistance necessary to enable LDCs to respond adequately to the introduction of any new SPS measures which may have significant negative effects on their trade; and to ensure that technical assistance is provided to LDCs with a view to responding to the special problems faced by them in implementing the Agreement on the Application of SPS Measures (Paragraph 3.6).


Utilization by LDCs:

As reported in the DESA survey, the majority of LDCs have been provided access to and benefited from bilateral and multilateral technical assistance.  The main bilateral providers of technical assistance, as well as the countries which received support are represented below.

Country Reported by:
European Union Mali, Senegal, Togo, Bangladesh, The Gambia, Mozambique and Uganda)
The Netherlands Uganda and Zambia
Denmark (DANIDA – Danish International Development Assistance) Uganda
Norway (NORAD – Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) Uganda
Sweden (SIDA – Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) Uganda
United States (USAID) Uganda, Zambia
China Chad, Uganda

The primary multilateral providers of technical assistance, and the countries that received support,  are as follows:

Multilateral/regional agency Reported by
FAO Chad, Mozambique, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda
UNCTAD Mozambique, Guinea
UNIDO Bangladesh, Mozambique, Uganda, West-African LDCs
World Bank Bangladesh, Zambia
African Development Bank Mozambique
AITIC The Gambia, Togo
Commonwealth Secretariat / Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) Hub and Spokes Project Togo
SADC Democratic Republic of Congo
COMESA Democratic Republic of Congo

The DESA survey also provided the following responses on why LDC Members have thus far been unable to fully benefit from technical assistance to enhance their SPS-related capacity:

  • Poor inter-government ministry coordination (Solomon Islands, Bangladesh).
  • The private sector is not aware of Article 9 of the SPS Agreement. Traders and producers, the main potential beneficiaries of technical assistance, are not informed about flexibilities in the SPS Agreement. Measures need to be taken to correct this deficiency, for example through awareness raising seminars and workshops for the private sector (Uganda, Mali).
  • Lack of information and insufficient human, material and financial capacities prevents the country from benefitting more fully from technical assistance programs related to SPS measures (Guinea, Lesotho).
  • Lack of clarity of the provision (Burkina Faso).
  • Requests for technical assistance are not forthcoming and DR Congo could improve on that. However, even if requests for technical assistance would be submitted more frequently, DR Congo is considered a post-conflict country, or a country classified as insecure. It is therefore less likely to receive technical assistance (DR Congo).

Available Smooth Transition Procedures:

Resources:

  1. SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES: TEXT OF THE AGREEMENT – The WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
  2. 2001 Ministerial Decision on Implementation-related Issues and Concerns