International Standards Setting

Australia participates in international standards setting for plant health (phytosanitary) measures. It does this as a part of its role in international and regional organisations such as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission.

Public consultation

Members of the public, particularly those with an interest in plant health technical matters, are invited by the Australian IPPC Secretariat to comment on draft International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).

Calls for comment on draft ISPMs are announced in Plant Protection News, a periodical email newsletter. You can subscribe to Plant Protection News at Free subscription.

The role of the Australian IPPC Secretariat

The Australian IPPC Secretariat coordinates all IPPC activities in Australia, including consultation on draft ISPMs.

The Secretariat aims to ensure that the international plant health standards developed through the IPPC are appropriate, effective and consistent with Australia's trading goals.

The Australian IPPC Secretariat has been established in the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer within the Biosecurity Services Group. The Chief Plant Protection Officer is the official IPPC contact point for Australia.

International Plant Protection Convention

The IPPC is a multilateral treaty for cooperation in plant health and protection under the auspices of the FAO. The IPPC addresses plant health protection by the establishment and use of international standards to meet phytosanitary needs.

The Convention recognises countries’ right to use phytosanitary measures to regulate imports of plants, plant products and objects that may harbour plant pests. Parties to the IPPC have obligations to comply with the Convention’s principles of necessity, technical justification and transparency in regulating imports.

Over 170 countries are parties to the Convention. The benefits to these parties include international trade agreements, standard setting, technical assistance and information exchange.

The International Plant Protection Convention text PDF [66kb] was revised in 1997 and entered into force in October 2005.

The official website for the IPPC is the International Phytosanitary Portal.

Commission on Phytosanitary Measures

The CPM is the governing body for the IPPC. It has established the rules and procedures for the CPM and its subsidiary bodies, including the Standards Committee.

International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures

ISPMs are developed through an agreed and defined process of draft development and member consultation.

The IPPC, and the WTO Agreement on the Application of Phytosanitary and Sanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), provide the legal framework under which the ISPMs are developed.

Although the IPPC is a legally binding international agreement, the standards developed and adopted by the Convention are not. However, WTO members are required to base their phytosanitary measures on international standards developed within the framework of the IPPC.

Phytosanitary measures that conform to the ISPMs are presumed to be consistent with the relevant provisions of the SPS Agreement where justified.

Measures that are not based on international standards, or measures that exist in the absence of international standards, must be developed through the assessment of the risk to plant life or health, and must be based on scientific principles and evidence.

Emergency (or provisional) measures may be taken without such analyses, but must be reviewed for their scientific justification and modified accordingly to be legitimately maintained.

More information on ISPMs can be found at:

International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures
Lists and provides access to the complete text of the adopted ISPMs

List of adopted ISPMs
Includes ISPM titles as well as supplements, appendices and annexes

Member consultation on draft ISPMs
Provides information on the consultation process and access to draft ISPMs (any Australian comments must be submitted through the Australian IPPC Secretariat)

International implementation of ISPM 15
Information about Australia’s implementation of ‘ISPM 15: Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade’ (2009), which includes tolerances for bark

Contact the Australian IPPC Secretariat

Julia Rymer (Executive Officer)
Australian IPPC Secretariat
Switchboard: +61 2 6272 3933
Facsimile: +61 2 6272 5835

Postal Address:
Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601