The majority of issues discussed at a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting had previously been raised, and only four new topics were discussed.

Delegates at the March meeting of the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures addressed trade concerns related to food safety and animal and plant health.

Countries raised 49 specific trade concerns, including four for the first time. New issues were requirements around certificates of conformity for processed food products, delays in the publication of requirements to reopen market access, and delays in authorizations for certain enterprises and products.

Russian representatives spoke about European delays in renewing authorizations for fishery firms and fish products. Ecuadorian officials addressed Mexico’s delay in clearing frozen shrimp, and Peru raised Bolivia’s delay in the import authorization process for dairy products. The Philippines supported Korea’s concern about Qatar’s precautionary requirements and measures for some imported foodstuffs.

Existing trade issues

Other concerns addressed pesticide residues, contaminants, endocrine disruptors, veterinary medicinal products, and challenges related to SPS procedures and import authorizations.

Officials from Chile were unhappy about the United States’ undue delays in publishing import requirements for table grapes, while Argentina and Brazil raised U.S. delays in authorizing sweet citrus fruits.  

Animal diseases, including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), African Swine Fever (ASF) and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), were also mentioned.

Members talked about SPS activities in Ukraine and import restrictions on Japanese seafood products by China, Russia, and Hong Kong due to the Fukushima nuclear accident. Ecuador and Ukraine shared insights into the use of phytosanitary e-certificates.

The next meeting of the SPS Committee is planned for late June 2024.

Canada supports STDF
Meanwhile, Canada has donated CAN $250,000 (U.S. $184,000) to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to help developing economies and least developed countries (LDCs) meet global food safety and animal and plant health standards.

Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said Canada will continue to support international food safety and animal and plant health while promoting a fair, transparent, and competitive marketplace.

“This investment will allow more countries to meet international standards that will help them access trading markets and build a stronger, more resilient future.”

The contribution will help pilot SPS capacity development projects in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean and build expertise that will safeguard local public health and facilitate safe trade.

“The donation not only bolsters the STDF’s vital work but also plays a pivotal role in fostering global trade by ensuring a level playing field. Such collaboration enhances trade opportunities, fosters economic growth, and ensures a safer, more resilient global food system,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director-General.

STDF was created by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization (WHO), and WTO.

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