International treaties and agreements

New Zealand has agreements with a range of international organisations. The agreements help us balance our trade obligations with our biosecurity needs.

Relevant organisations and agreements

Many of New Zealand's international obligations are trade-based. They are usually included in bilateral agreements with the country we trade with. But there are some over-arching agreements and international organisations that are particularly relevant for biosecurity.

The World Trade Organization (WTO)

Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)

The SPS Agreement contains the WTO's agreed rules on how countries can protect the health of their people, animals and plants while also facilitating trade.

New Zealand's SPS Contact Point email is

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International Plant Protection Convention

Hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) sets standards for the safe movement of plants and related products to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

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World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The OIE sets codes for animal-based trade, which MPI uses in developing our policies and procedures for specific animal diseases. MPI is responsible for reporting the occurrence of risk organisms to the OIE and reporting the official controls put in place to manage biosecurity risk.

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Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex)

Codex was 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. Its key purposes are protecting consumer health, ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade and promoting co-ordination of the food standard work of international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

The GATT covers a series of agreements which set out how signatory countries can trade goods with each other. Agreements can have a sectoral focus (for example, agriculture) and can be negotiated and reviewed over time.

Article 20 of GATT allows governments to act on trade to protect human, animal or plant life or health, provided they do not discriminate or use the provision as disguised protectionism.

Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade

This agreement aims to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

Free Trade Agreements

Bilateral and regional fair trade agreements help New Zealand facilitate trade and maintain biosecurity. MPI provides specialist expertise in the negotiation of the SPS chapters of free trade agreements and is responsible for developing import health standards to facilitate market access.

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Other relevant organisations and agreements

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animal and Fauna (CITES)

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 MPI supports the system through border inspections. If an unauthorised CITES-listed organism is found, it must be sent back to the country of origin or destroyed.

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

The 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)

The CBD is one of a number of conventions which aim to promote sustainable development which meets our current needs while protecting resources 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 biotechnology.

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The World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO and the International Health Regulations 2005 are relevant in respect to animal diseases that might be transmitted to humans (zoonoses).

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