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Since the mid-1990s, there have been three occasions on which Japan has impeded imports of vegetables from China. On each occasion the instruments used by Japan and the response by China have been different. One the first two occasions, China was not a member of the WTO but now that she is, the scope for Japan to constrain imports by a VER has been removed. The most recent dispute concerns chemical residues in spinach which exceed Japan’s maximum permitted levels but not those of the EU and the U.S. In this paper we explore the workings of the SPS Agreement using these trade disputes as an example.


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