Ir Arriba

The dispute settlement system of the WTO and its relationship to sanitary and phytosanitary measures

Event Date
San José, Costa Rica



The context of globalization that characterizes our current world economy compels countries to regulate their commercial relations, both locally and internationally; that is why bilateral, regional or multilateral trade agreements (such as the WTO) have been established to negotiate rules that provide protection, security, predictability and transparency. The mechanism that guarantees compliance with what was agreed upon within the Organization is the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The multilateral dispute settlement system of the WTO offers many advantages to its members: it is a system that seeks impartiality and an early solution to conflict, which treats its members equally and consistently, and, perhaps most important, it takes into consideration their level of development and allows members to manage and interpret adequately the commitments negotiated between Parties.

On the other hand, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) has scientific bases that are influential in the presentation of a controversy within the framework of the WTO. In this regard, it is important that the governmental and business actors of the countries in the Americas know the various aspects of the SPS Agreement that may or have been invoked in disputes, in order to avoid conflicts in the application of the provisions thereof, or rather, to know how to invoke the provisions before a possible request before the WTO.

Thirty-three (33) member states of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) are full members of the WTO, with the exception of The Bahamas, which is in the process of joining. Many of them have participated as claimants, defendants or third parties in any case where violations or transgressions of the SPS Agreement are under consideration. In view of this, and given  the work of IICA and the WTO in contributing to the improvement of institutional capacities for participation in international trade forums, the forum being held, will lend continuity to the technical forum held in August 2017 on the importance of the multilateral system of dispute resolution of the WTO for agricultural trade of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.


Given the proliferation of various preferential trade agreements and the trend towards better linkage to value chains, it is important that the representatives of governments and companies, as well as academia, recognize the importance and usefulness of the mechanisms to which they are subject, when there are differences in the application of some trade measure that affects agricultural trade, for example, the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM).

General Objective:

To broaden the knowledge of technicians and policy managers of the IICA member countries on topics relevant to the agricultural trade policy and institutional framework and their participation in international forums, within the thematic framework of the IICA’s flagship project on competitiveness and sustainability of agricultural chains.

Specific Objectives:

  • To promote a space for reflection on the dispute resolution mechanisms of the WTO and its contributions to the sanitary and phytosanitary systems, especially in developing countries.
  • To identify the benefits and challenges for the countries of the Americas in the use of the WTO DSM in the area of ​​SPS, especially for developing countries.

Participating Institutions/Facilitators:

  • Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). WTO Reference Center at IICA.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO). Institute for Training and Cooperation (ITC); Legal Affairs Division.

The forum will be transmitted via a videoconference in Spanish and in English. To participate, simply click on the Live Transmission icon.