Ministers from 19 countries called for farmers’ to have access to tools and technologies to be able to produce more food in a safe and sustainable way.
The Ministers were attending the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with 164 member country delegations and numerous NGOs. The statement pointed out that sustainable trade and production were hampered by regulatory barriers that often lacked sufficient scientific justification.
The joint statement was presented on December 12, 2017 at a side event to the WTO, where officials from Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and the United States delivered remarks supporting the statement. In addition to government officials, representatives from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided comments in support.
The statement acknowledged the importance of transparency and predictability to international trade, and called on all WTO Members to “strengthen the implementation of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement by reinforcing the work of relevant international standards organizations and ensuring the scientific basis of SPS measures is sound.”
The Ministers pointed out that the “development and application of sound SPS measures is needed to support farmers’ choice in tools that can expand agricultural production and facilitate access to food and agricultural products, and also to safeguard human, animal and plant health.”
The statement also focused on an increasingly contentious issue – that of maximum residue levels for pesticides, and while it recognized the work done by the WTO’s SPS Committee on pesticide-related issues that have an adverse impact on international trade in food and agricultural products, it also strongly supported the central importance of risk analysis to assess, manage, and communicate risks of concern associated with pesticide use in order to protect public health while enabling the safe use of pesticides and facilitating trade in food and agricultural products. In that regard, the Minister supported the voluntary actions by Members put forward by Kenya, Uganda and the United States to increase the capacity and efficiency of Codex in setting international standards on pesticide maximum residue.
The signatories to the joint statement represent the governments of: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Kenya, Uganda, Japan, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States.
Source: WTO press release: “Trade in Food and Agricultural Products Joint Statement of Undersigned Ministers”