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Special feature: China's WTO Decade

Food Safety in China: Implicationsof Accession to the WTO

Denise Prévost
p. 39-47


The interaction between trade and health objectives has assumed critical importance for China since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The wish to improve its access to foreign markets has had a visible impact on China’s food safety policy, providing significant impetus for far-reaching reforms. The WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), to which China is now bound as a WTO Member, sets out a “best practices” regulatory model with which national food safety regulation must comply. The disciplines it entails on regulatory autonomy in the area of food safety may present considerable challenges for China but have the potential to promote rationality in such regulation and to prevent food safety regulations that are based on unfounded fears or are a response to protectionist pressures from the domestic food industry. Faced with the possibility of challenges by other WTO Members to its food safety measures on the grounds of non-compliance with WTO rules, China has a strong incentive to improve conformity with this regulatory model, bringing benefits not only to exporters but most importantly to its citizens.

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Bibliographical reference

Denise Prévost, « Food Safety in China: Implicationsof Accession to the WTO », China Perspectives, 2012/1 | 2012, 39-47.

Electronic reference

Denise Prévost, « Food Safety in China: Implicationsof Accession to the WTO », China Perspectives [Online], 2012/1 | 2012, Online since 30 March 2015, connection on 28 September 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Denise Prévost

Associate Professor of International Economic Law at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. She also regularly does consulting work for the European Commission, industry groups, national ministries, and law firms on WTO law matters. Denise frequently lectures at conferences and in capacity-building workshops on sanitary and phytosanitary issues and WTO dispute settlement. Until September 2011, she was Deputy Director of the Institute for Globalisation and International Regulation of Maastricht University.

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