A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE PLANT HEALTH (PHYTOSANITARY) BILL’S COMPLIANCE WITH THE SALIENT ASPECTS OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO) AGREEMENT ON THE APPLICATION OF SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES
Keywords:phytosanitary measures, scientific principles, sufficient science, emergency and provisional measures, entry and establishment of a pest, user of land
This paper juxtaposes the long-mooted Plant Health (Phytosanitary) Bill with its corollary, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). Firstly, this paper finds that the Bill creates an ambiguity by including in the definition of “phytosanitary measures”, those “measures, regulations or procedures that limit the economic impact of regulated non-quarantine pests”, without any guidance on the relevant factors to be considered in this regard. Secondly, it is found that the Bill explicitly establishes the requirement that the new phytosanitary regime is based on “scientific principles”. Thirdly, the paper argues that the Bill also establishes the general rule that makes “sufficient science” the basis of any phytosanitary measure in conformity with South Africa’s core obligations under the SPS. Fourthly, this paper finds that the Bill contravenes Article 5.7 of the SPS in that it provides for the implementation of the so-called “emergency and provisional measures” by the competent authority as an exception to the “sufficient science” rule, without any of the necessary safeguards created by Article 5.7. Lastly, the paper finds that the Bill has unduly shifted the primary burden of preventing the entry and establishment of a pest, from the competent authority to the “user of land”.
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