A Global Partnership to Facilitate Safe Trade: FIA Represents Food Industry at STDF Meeting

Food Industry Asia (FIA) was the first Asia-based organisation to represent the food and agriculture industry at the bi-annual meeting of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), which recently took place at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss issues related to trade facilitation. 

The STDF brought together over 45 leading trade, health and agriculture experts from STDF partners, donors, developing country sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) experts and observer organisations, including regional organisations and the private sector, for a lively and focused dialogue on diverse topics related to SPS capacity-building.

The STDF is a global partnership that supports developing countries in building their capacities to implement international sanitary and phytosanitary standards, guidelines and recommendations as a means to improve their human, animal, and plant health statuses, as well as their ability to gain or maintain access to markets. The five founding partners of the STDF include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the WTO.

Source: Standards and Trade Development Facility

SPS knowledge shared

The Working Group of the STDF, which acts as a global knowledge and coordination platform on SPS capacity-building issues, discussed how the partnership can contribute to the increased use and implementation of international standards. Presentations highlighted findings of regional surveys on the use of selected Codex standards, IPPC's work on the Implementation Review Support System and an overview of OIE activities that support implementation of OIE standards.

The Working Group agreed to new work on Good Regulatory Practice (GRP) in the SPS area, which will initially focus on identifying examples of tools, processes and methods being used to improve the quality and implementation of SPS regulations, mainly in developing countries.

Information shared on SPS-related capacity-building activities, including those by the African Union, COLEACP, FAO, the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank, was made available. Private sector participants invited as observers included FIA, as well as Safe Supply of Affordable Food Everywhere (SSAFE).

Matt Kovac, Executive Director FIA, who represented the regional food & beverage industry, said: “The STDF provides a collaborative platform for the public and private sectors to come together to discuss SPS capacity-building needs, share experiences and good practice, leverage additional funding, and work on coordinated and coherent solutions.”

“Trade in food and agricultural products offers a way for farmers, processors and traders in developing countries to increase their incomes and boost economic development. But despite the potential, they face many challenges, such as meeting food safety, animal and plant health requirements, which can be major obstacles.”

Members reviewed a wide range of SPS projects as part of STDF's mandate to improve food safety, animal and plant health and facilitate safe trade in Africa, Latin America, Central America and Asia.

Participants supported the idea of an STDF event on Electronic SPS certification as part of the Sixth Global Review of Aid for Trade, to be held 11-13 July at the WTO, under the theme "Promoting Connectivity".