Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - FAO / WHO / WTO / Codex - 2015

WTO News Item, 18 March 2015

WTO – SPS - New 5-year plan approved for assistance in food safety, animal and plant health

Five agencies and their partners operating a programme to help developing countries meet international standards on food safety and animal and plant health have approved plans for 2015–2019 designed to further strengthen safe trade.

The decision will allow the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to continue to provide assistance to developing countries, at least until the end of the decade, and to function as a general framework for its partner organizations to provide their technical cooperation, with stronger management based on results. An annual funding target will be maintained at US$5 million. The STDF trust fund, administered by the WTO, is financed through voluntary contributions from donors.

The “medium term strategy” (pdf) was recently endorsed by the STDF’s Policy Committee and is now in place ahead of the up-coming end-of-March meetings of the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Committee — which deals with food safety and animal and plant health — and the STDF working group.

The STDF has two key roles in boosting the capacity of developing countries to meet sanitary and phytosanitary requirements:

The ultimate goal is to help trade in safe food and agricultural products flow more smoothly and to assist developing countries gain and maintain access to markets by meeting the relevant safety and health standards.

The STDF was set up in 2004 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO), and is run by the five partners together with donor countries and representatives of developing countries.

The Secretariats of the joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) also participate in the partnership.

Codex, the IPPC and the OIE — sometimes known as SPS’s “three sisters” — are the three standard-setting organizations designated as reference bodies in the SPS Agreement. Codex deals with food safety, the IPPC with plant health, and the OIE with animal health and zoonoses — infectious animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

The STDF also works closely with a range of other Aid for Trade programmes, including the Enhanced Integrated Framework for assistance to least developed countries.

For more details, see:

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