International Agreements & Standards
Consultation on International and Regional Standards
An essential component of New Zealand’s role in International and regional organisation is to input into the development of International and regional standards.
Free Trade Agreements (FTA's)
Biosecurity New Zealand play a key role in the writing of the SPS Chapter in the development of FTA's.
International Treaties and Agreements
Biosecurity activity should be undertaken in accordance with international treaties and agreements that New Zealand has signed. Such agreements set out principles, standards, criteria and recommendations that should be followed. Many of these agreements are trade-based, facilitating the trading of goods between countries, or have an emphasis on the maintenance or enhancement of resources or values (e.g. rights of people, environmental safeguards). Such treaties and agreements are used to develop New Zealand law in the relevant area.
The most relevant international organisations and/or agreements in the biosecurity context are:
- World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) - setting the framework for trade and rules for managing risks from pests and diseases;
- The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a series of rules-based agreements setting out how signatory countries can trade goods with each other, is relevant for biosecurity. Agreements under GATT can have a sectoral focus (e.g. Agreement on Agriculture) and can be negotiated and reviewed over time and cover multiple clauses. Article 20 of GATT allows governments to act on trade in order to protect human, animal or plant life or health, provided they do not discriminate or use this as disguised protectionism.
- Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles.
- Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) acts as the host for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat. The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures implements the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) for plants-based trade. It undertakes the tasks outlined in the SPS Agreement in relation to the IPPC outlining actions to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products, and to promote appropriate measures for their control. Like OIE, a National Plant Protection Organisation (for New Zealand this is MAF) is responsible for a range of phytosanitary functions and for reporting
- World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) - animals-based trade; MAF's response, surveillance and testing policies and procedures for specific animal diseases draw heavily on, and seek to be compliant with, these Codes. MAF also has, as the New Zealand Government's "competent authority", responsibility for reporting the occurrence of risk organisms to OIE, reporting the official controls that have been put in place to manage biosecurity risks, and providing official assurances of New Zealand's country, area or compartment freedom based on directed surveillance programmes. See the Pests and Diseases section for additional information.
- World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Health Regulations 2005 - particularly in respect of zoonoses (diseases of animals that might be transmitted to humans). Information can also be found in Human Health.
- Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) is a commission established by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The main purposes of this Programme are protecting health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting co-ordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations. There is additional information on this topic on the New Zealand Food Safety Authority website .
- United Nations Environment Programme covers a range of environmental programmes. Three conventions of interest to biosecurity are:
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animal and Fauna (CITES) seeks to limit the impact of trade on endangered species. The import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by CITES must be authorised through a licensing system. The Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989 implements CITES, and MAF supports the system through its border inspection services. Finding an unauthorised CITES-listed organism requires actions to be taken to re-export it back to country of origin or to destroy it.
- International Maritime Organization (IMO) - Aims to improve maritime safety and prevent pollution from ships. Relevant biosecurity-related measures include conventions on anti-fouling systems, ballast water management and dumping of waste.
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - CBD is one of a number of conventions which aim to realise a "comprehensive strategy for sustainable development - meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations". The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety , adopted by the CBD seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.
This list is not exhaustive, but highlights key agreements and international organisations. Many of New Zealand's requirements are trade-based and are usually codified into bilateral agreements between New Zealand and the country we are trading with with.
Page last updated: 5 February 2013