CPTPP, SPS-Plus, Food Safety, Science, Risk Analysis

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Trade in food and agricultural products accounts for a major part of global trade, and the trade continues to alert domestic consumers to the risks associated with modern food processing and production methods. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), now rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), represents a new model of mega-regional trade pacts posed to set higher standards for promoting and streamlining trade liberalization. Because of concerns with national food safety regulations that could constitute forms of non-tariff barriers, the CPTPP, in contrast to the World Trade Organization (WTO), stipulates further rules on parties’ sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), achieving a type of role model of SPS-plus. This article explores the legal implications and progressiveness of the SPS-plus design, particularly focusing on the requirements of scientific evidence and risk analysis. The SPS-plus that sets hurdles for national regulatory regimes largely reflects WTO jurisprudence, international health standards, and the national regulations of the United States. I argue that the role model may provide momentum to modernize parties’ food safety regimes, but the cost of full compliance could be high. Genuine collaboration, experience-sharing, and technological and financial support between developed countries and less developed countries may alleviate the difficulties of implementation and promote coherence.