Sanitary and Phytosanitary

Find out how you can comply with Australia’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) chapter sets out how the UK and Australia will facilitate trade whilst protecting human, animal and plant life, and health. SPS measures ensure that food traded is safe to eat, and that animals and plants are free from pests and disease.

The SPS chapter aims to strengthen communication and cooperation and promote greater transparency between the UK and Australia so that SPS measures do not create unjustified barriers to trade.

The UK-Australia FTA will not change the SPS rules of either market but will put in place structures and commitments to allow our governments to work together to tackle SPS-related market access barriers and improve understanding of each other’s systems. This will ultimately help businesses move agri-food goods between our two markets.

Both countries shall cooperate to strengthen collaboration with international organisations that develop relevant standards and guidelines.

The agreement contains the following commitments to ease potential trade frictions arising from SPS measures, helping UK producers and traders to take advantage of new market opportunities:

Regional conditions

The UK Australia FTA provides among the strongest commitments on regionalisation that either country has ever agreed. It sets out a timely and transparent process when either country is assessing the other’s measures in place to control pest or disease outbreaks. The text is also more explicit on the principles and concepts relevant for regionalisation that will apply to trade between the UK and Australia – this will help keep trade moving, even when pests and diseases are present but safely managed.

Import checks and audits/verifications

The agreement sets out principles for both parties to follow regarding import checks and notification in cases of non-compliance at the border, enhancing transparency and certainty.  This will facilitate trade in agri-food products.

The FTA sets out commitments on conducting transparent, proportionate, and efficient audits and verification of each other’s SPS systems to ensure we have confidence that exports are meeting our high standards.

The deal provides opportunity for cooperation on export certification including a commitment to work together to progress the use of electronic certification. This would reduce administrative processes and improve document security – enabling smoother trade for businesses.

Emergency measures

The deal requires both parties to make clear, rapid notification of any emergency SPS measures, which sometimes need to be implemented at short notice and can disrupt trade, and to take account of goods already in transit when doing so.

Trade conditions 

We have agreed a comprehensive set of SPS commitments setting out greater transparency and timeliness of processes and exchange of information including in relation to market access procedures to facilitate trade. General import SPS requirements shall be made publicly available upon request by the importing country if these are not already available for the specific good. Any inspections, assessments and approval procedures will be completed without undue delay, with each party avoiding unnecessary or unduly burdensome requests.

Dialogue structures

The chapter gives us new levers to address SPS market access barriers. For example, the Committee, working groups or consultations allow enhanced cooperation between technical experts which can help address market access issues. We have also secured commitments for timely and transparent import approval procedures, which will aid market access applications, as well as commitments to hold consultations on certificates.

Report a trade barrier

Business are encouraged to tell the UK government if you are facing a new SPS trade barrier.

Useful resources

The importation of some products to Australia, including many agri-food products, is subject to certain biosecurity import conditions. Some products are not permitted entry while other products are only allowed into Australia subject to meeting import conditions, including a requirement for an import permit.

You can use the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to determine whether a commodity intended for import into Australia is permitted and any relevant conditions and/or requirements for supporting documentation.

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