Developing countries get backing for easier trade
MEMBERS of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have tentatively approved new proposals to give special treatment to developing countries to help them meet trade standards on food safety and animal health, the WTO said on Friday.
Food safety and animal health regulations, also called sanitary and phytosanitary measures, are a form of non-tariff trade barrier. Although important in preventing the global spread of diseases such as bird flu, swine flu and mad-cow disease, they are usually wide-ranging. Developing countries have complained that such barriers, which fall outside WTO enforcement, limit their ability to sell their goods in developed markets and protect developed countries' agricultural lobbies.
The latest proposals, such as giving developing countries including SA longer to meet these standards than developed countries, more lenient obligations and technical assistance, would be approved by December 16 if no one raised further objections, the WTO said.
The latest draft of the document on special and differential treatment would be released shortly. The WTO said its members recognised that the revisions would not fully address the issue. It was a step forward but the committee would consider "other proposals and possible actions".
Michelle Kruger, project manager in charge of transformation at the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum, said the forum had not seen any new proposals from the WTO. While SA's large-scale established fruit exporters were well versed in the technical specifications for their exports, emerging farmers would welcome assistance in meeting importers' requirements, she said.
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