Trade-Restrictive Measures on SPS Agreement: A Case Study of China's Restrictions on Trade in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Original Article


1 faculty of law, Shahid Beheshti universit

2 faculty of law shahid beheshti university


The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to shortages of essential medical supplies and equipment, creating significant barriers to the global supply chain. A number of countries have imposed trade restrictions in response to internal challenges posed by COVID-19, including threats to the health of their citizens. Since June 2020, China turned its eyes on trade measures to battle the spread of COVID-19 in its country. Extensive testing of containers and the content of imported food and agricultural products leading to complete import bans of specific products; including poultry products from Tyson Foods Inc., were among these trade restrictions. These measures have been met by harsh criticisms from other World Trade Organization (WTO) members who questioned their legality under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). The purpose of this article is to examine the legitimacy of the trade restrictions imposed by China in response to COVID-19 pandemic, namely the suspension of imports on Tyson Foods Inc. (Tyson) under the SPS Agreement framework. The SPS Agreement State Parties may, through the implementation of legitimate sanitary and phytosanitary measures, prevent the import of harmful goods that threaten the health of their citizens. Since WTO aims to liberalize trade, the implementation of any trade restrictions is subject to the terms and conditions ignoring which would lead to the international responsibility of the member state.