North American Free Trade Agreement

Chapter Seven: Agriculture and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Article 717: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures

1. Each Party, with respect to any control or inspection procedure that it conducts:

    (a) shall initiate and complete the procedure as expeditiously as possible and in no less favorable manner for a good of another Party than for a like good of the Party or of any other country;

    (b) shall publish the normal processing period for the procedure or communicate the anticipated processing period to the applicant on request;

    (c) shall ensure that the competent body

      (i) on receipt of an application, promptly examines the completeness of the documentation and informs the applicant in a precise and complete manner of any deficiency,

      (ii) transmits to the applicant as soon as possible the results of the procedure in a form that is precise and complete so that the applicant may take any necessary corrective action,

      (iii) where the application is deficient, proceeds as far as practicable with the procedure if the applicant so requests, and

      (iv) informs the applicant, on request, of the status of the application and the reasons for any delay;

    (d) shall limit the information the applicant is required to supply to that necessary for conducting the procedure;

    (e) shall accord confidential or proprietary information arising from, or supplied in connection with, the procedure conducted for a good of another Party

      (i) treatment no less favorable than for a good of the Party, and

      (ii) in any event, treatment that protects the applicant's legitimate commercial interests, to the extent provided under the Party's law;

    (f) shall limit any requirement regarding individual specimens or samples of a good to that which is reasonable and necessary;

    (g) should not impose a fee for conducting the procedure that is higher for a good of another Party than is equitable in relation to any such fee it imposes for its like goods or for like goods of any other country, taking into account communication, transportation and other related costs;

    (h) should use criteria for selecting the location of facilities at which the procedure is conducted that do not cause unnecessary inconvenience to an applicant or its agent;

    (i) shall provide a mechanism to review complaints concerning the operation of the procedure and to take corrective action when a complaint is justified;

    (j) should use criteria for selecting samples of goods that do not cause unnecessary inconvenience to an applicant or its agent; and

    (k) shall limit the procedure, for a good modified subsequent to a determination that the good fulfills the requirements of the applicable sanitary or phytosanitary measure, to that necessary to determine that the good continues to fulfill the requirements of that measure.

2. Each Party shall apply, with such modifications as may be necessary, paragraphs 1(a) through (i) to its approval procedures.

3. Where an importing Party's sanitary or phytosanitary measure requires the conduct of a control or inspection procedure at the level of production, an exporting Party shall, on the request of the importing Party, take such reasonable measures as may be available to it to facilitate access in its territory and to provide assistance necessary to facilitate the conduct of the importing Party's control or inspection procedure.

4. A Party maintaining an approval procedure may require its approval for the use of an additive, or its establishment of a tolerance for a contaminant, in a food, beverage or feedstuff, under that procedure prior to granting access to its domestic market for a food, beverage or feedstuff containing that additive or contaminant. Where such Party so requires, it shall consider using a relevant international standard, guideline or recommendation as the basis for granting access until it completes the procedure.

Article 718: Notification, Publication and Provision of Information

1. Further to Articles 1802 (Publication) and 1803 (Notification and Provision of Information), each Party proposing to adopt or modify a sanitary or phytosanitary measure of general application at the federal level shall:

    (a) at least 60 days prior to the adoption or modification of the measure, other than a law, publish a notice and notify in writing the other Parties of the proposed measure and provide to the other Parties and publish the full text of the proposed measure, in such a manner as to enable interested persons to become acquainted with the proposed measure;

    (b) identify in the notice and notification the good to which the measure would apply, and provide a brief description of the objective and reasons for the measure;

    (c) provide a copy of the proposed measure to any Party or interested person that so requests and, wherever possible, identify any provision that deviates in substance from relevant international standards, guidelines or recommendations; and

    (d) without discrimination, allow other Parties and interested persons to make comments in writing and shall, on request, discuss the comments and take the comments and the results of the discussions into account.

2. Each Party shall seek, through appropriate measures, to ensure, with respect to a sanitary or phytosanitary measure of a state or provincial government:

    (a) that, at an early appropriate stage, a notice and notification of the type referred to in paragraphs 1(a) and (b) are made prior to their adoption; and

    (b) observance of paragraphs 1(c) and (d).

3. Where a Party considers it necessary to address an urgent problem relating to sanitary or phytosanitary protection, it may omit any step set out in paragraph 1 or 2, provided that, on adoption of a sanitary or phytosanitary measure, it shall:

    (a) immediately provide to the other Parties a notification of the type referred to in paragraph 1(b), including a brief description of the urgent problem;

    (b) provide a copy of the measure to any Party or interested person that so requests; and

    (c) without discrimination, allow other Parties and interested persons to make comments in writing and shall, on request, discuss the comments and take the comments and the results of the discussions into account.

4. Each Party shall, except where necessary to address an urgent problem referred to in paragraph 3, allow a reasonable period between the publication of a sanitary or phytosanitary measure of general application and the date that it becomes effective to allow time for interested persons to adapt to the measure.

5. Each Party shall designate a government authority responsible for the implementation at the federal level of the notification provisions of this Article, and shall notify the other Parties thereof. Where a Party designates two or more government authorities for this purpose, it shall provide to the other Parties complete and unambiguous information on the scope of responsibility of each such authority.

6. Where an importing Party denies entry into its territory of a good of another Party because it does not comply with a sanitary or phytosanitary measure, the importing Party shall provide a written explanation to the exporting Party, on request, that identifies the applicable measure and the reasons that the good is not in compliance.

Article 719: Inquiry Points

1. Each Party shall ensure that there is one inquiry point that is able to answer all reasonable inquiries from other Parties and interested persons, and to provide relevant documents, regarding:

    (a) any sanitary or phytosanitary measure of general application, including any control or inspection procedure or approval procedure, proposed, adopted or maintained in its territory at the federal, state or provincial government level;

    (b) the Party's risk assessment procedures and factors it considers in conducting the assessment and in establishing its appropriate levels of protection;

    (c) the membership and participation of the Party, or its relevant federal, state or provincial government authorities in international and regional sanitary and phytosanitary organizations and systems, and in bilateral and multilateral arrangements within the scope of this Section, and the provisions of those systems and arrangements; and

    (d) the location of notices published pursuant to this Section or where such information can be obtained.

2. Each Party shall ensure that where copies of documents are requested by another Party or by interested persons in accordance with this Section, they are supplied at the same price, apart from the actual cost of delivery, as the price for domestic purchase.

Article 720: Technical Cooperation

1. Each Party shall, on the request of another Party, facilitate the provision of technical advice, information and assistance, on mutually agreed terms and conditions, to enhance that Party's sanitary and phytosanitary measures and related activities, including research, processing technologies, infrastructure and the establishment of national regulatory bodies. Such assistance may include credits, donations and grants for the acquisition of technical expertise, training and equipment that will facilitate the Party's adjustment to and compliance with a Party's sanitary or phytosanitary measure.

2. Each Party shall, on the request of another Party:

    (a) provide to that Party information on its technical cooperation programs regarding sanitary or phytosanitary measures relating to specific areas of interest; and

    (b) consult with the other Party during the development of, or prior to the adoption or change in the application of, any sanitary or phytosanitary measure.

Article 721: Limitations on the Provision of Information
Nothing in this Section shall be construed to require a Party to:

    (a) communicate, publish texts or provide particulars or copies of documents other than in an official language of the Party; or

    (b) furnish any information the disclosure of which would impede law enforcement or otherwise be contrary to the public interest or would prejudice the legitimate commercial interests of particular enterprises.

Article 722: Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

1. The Parties hereby establish a Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, comprising representatives of each Party who have responsibility for sanitary and phytosanitary matters.

2. The Committee should facilitate:

    (a) the enhancement of food safety and improvement of sanitary and phytosanitary conditions in the territories of the Parties;

    (b) activities of the Parties pursuant to Articles 713 and 714;

    (c) technical cooperation between the Parties, including cooperation in the development, application and enforcement of sanitary or phytosanitary measures; and

    (d) consultations on specific matters relating to sanitary or phytosanitary measures.

3. The Committee:

    (a) shall, to the extent possible, in carrying out its functions, seek the assistance of relevant international and North American standardizing organizations to obtain available scientific and technical advice and minimize duplication of effort;

    (b) may draw on such experts and expert bodies as it considers appropriate;

    (c) shall report annually to the Commission on the implementation of this Section;

    (d) shall meet on the request of any Party and, unless the Parties otherwise agree, at least once each year; and

    (e) may, as it considers appropriate, establish and determine the scope and mandate of working groups.

Article 723: Technical Consultations

1. A Party may request consultations with another Party on any matter covered by this Section.

2. Each Party should use the good offices of relevant international and North American standardizing organizations, including those referred to in Article 713(5), for advice and assistance on sanitary and phytosanitary matters within their respective mandates.

3. Where a Party requests consultations regarding the application of this Section to a Party's sanitary or phytosanitary measure, and so notifies the Committee, the Committee may facilitate the consultations, if it does not consider the matter itself, by referring the matter for non-binding technical advice or recommendations to a working group, including an ad hoc working group, or to another forum.

4. The Committee should consider any matter referred to it under paragraph 3 as expeditiously as possible, particularly regarding perishable goods, and promptly forward to the Parties any technical advice or recommendations that it develops or receives concerning the matter. The Parties involved shall provide a written response to the Committee concerning the technical advice or recommendations within such time as the Committee may request.

5. Where the involved Parties have had recourse to consultations facilitated by the Committee under paragraph 3, the consultations shall, on the agreement of the Parties involved, constitute consultations under Article 2006 (Consultations).

6. The Parties confirm that a Party asserting that a sanitary or phytosanitary measure of another Party is inconsistent with this Section shall have the burden of establishing the inconsistency.

Article 724: Definitions For purposes of this Section:

animal includes fish and wild fauna;

appropriate level of protection means the level of protection of human, animal or plant life or health in the territory of a Party that the Party considers appropriate;

approval procedure means any registration, notification or other mandatory administrative procedure for:

    (a) approving the use of an additive for a stated purpose or under stated conditions; or

    (b) establishing a tolerance for a stated purpose or under stated conditions for a contaminant,

in a food, beverage or feedstuff prior to permitting the use of the additive or the marketing of a food, beverage or feedstuff containing the additive or contaminant;

area means a country, part of a country or all or parts of several countries;

area of low pest or disease prevalence means an area in which a specific pest or disease occurs at low levels;

contaminant includes pesticide and veterinary drug residues and extraneous matter;

control or inspection procedure means any procedure used, directly or indirectly, to determine that a sanitary or phytosanitary measure is fulfilled, including sampling, testing, inspection, evaluation, verification, monitoring, auditing, assurance of conformity, accreditation, registration, certification or other procedure involving the physical examination of a good, of the packaging of a good, or of the equipment or facilities directly related to production, marketing or use of a good, but does not mean an approval procedure;

international standard, guideline or recommendation means a standard, guideline or recommendation:

    (a) regarding food safety, adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, including one regarding decomposition elaborated by the Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products, food additives, contaminants, hygienic practice, and methods of analysis and sampling;

    (b) regarding animal health and zoonoses, developed under the auspices of the International Office of Epizootics;

    (c) regarding plant health, developed under the auspices of the Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention in cooperation with the North American Plant Protection Organization; or

    (d) established by or developed under any other international organization agreed on by the Parties;

pest includes a weed;

pest-free or disease-free area means an area in which a specific pest or disease does not occur;

plant includes wild flora;

risk assessment means an evaluation of:

    (a) the potential for the introduction, establishment or spread of a pest or disease and associated biological and economic consequences; or

    (b) the potential for adverse effects on human or animal life or health arising from the presence of an additive, contaminant, toxin or disease-causing organism in a food, beverage or feedstuff;

sanitary or phytosanitary measure means a measure that a Party adopts, maintains or applies to:

    (a) protect animal or plant life or health in its territory from risks arising from the introduction, establishment or spread of a pest or disease,

    (b) protect human or animal life or health in its territory from risks arising from the presence of an additive, contaminant, toxin or disease-causing organism in a food, beverage or feedstuff,

    (c) protect human life or health in its territory from risks arising from a disease-causing organism or pest carried by an animal or plant, or a product thereof, or

    (d) prevent or limit other damage in its territory arising from the introduction, establishment or spread of a pest,

including end product criteria; a product-related processing or production method; a testing, inspection, certification or approval procedure; a relevant statistical method; a sampling procedure; a method of risk assessment; a packaging and labelling requirement directly related to food safety; and a quarantine treatment, such as a relevant requirement associated with the transportation of animals or plants or with material necessary for their survival during transportation; and

scientific basis means a reason based on data or information derived using scientific methods.

Continue on to Chapter Eight, Article 801