WTO NEWS: SPEECHES — DG PASCAL LAMY

Standards and Trade Development Facility workshop — Dar-es-Salaam

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Let me begin by thanking Minister Mramba for hosting us this morning and for his warm words of welcome. We are grateful to him and his government for their willingness for hosting this regional conference on Aid for Trade. We are also grateful to the African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka and his team for organizing this conference and today's side event.

I also wish to recognise the presence of Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), with whom I have just held a working meeting this morning.

We have convened this Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF) meeting as part of the broader Aid for Trade event which is focused specifically on Africa. As you are aware, our objective is to focus attention on Africa's trade related capacity challenges and to mobilise the required resources to address them. Similar events have already taken place in Lima, Peru, for the Latin America/Caribbean region and Manila, Philippines for the Asia Pacific region. These will lead to the first global aid for trade event taking place in Geneva on 20-21 November 2007.

The STDF is a joint initiative of 5 international organisations, the FAO, the OIE, the World Bank, the WHO and the WTO that has two strategic aims: Firstly, it seeks to assist developing countries enhance their expertise and capacity to analyze and to implement international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, improving their human, animal and plant health situation, and thus their ability to benefit from existing and new market access opportunities; and secondly, it aims to better coordinate the activities of donors, the mobilization of funds, the exchange of experience and the dissemination of good practice in relation on SPS related areas.

Since its launch in 2002, the STDF has financed 15 projects and 17 project preparation grants for African countries, representing 46% of total expenditure. This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the program to Africa. In addition, these projects have primarily been based on the priorities that LDCs have identified, thus ensuring consistency with their national priorities.

The STDF is one of the means to translate theoretical into real market access. One of the objectives of the ongoing WTO Doha Development Round is to further reduce obstacles to trade, but we all know that the benefits of trade opening will not automatically be realised by African countries because of their of their supply side constraints.

What is therefore required is to provide coordinated support to these countries to help them address these bottlenecks in order to fully benefit from the results of the Doha Round. This is where aid for trade and in particular, the STDF program is relevant.

For Africa, the Doha Round will deliver enhanced market access into developed and developing country markets through their commitment to provide duty free quota free access for the least developed countries. In addition, the Round will result in sharp reductions in agricultural subsidies in developed countries including those in the cotton sector and, furthermore, will result in the elimination of export subsidies and strengthened disciplines in fisheries subsidies.

The STDF program is very central to our efforts to enhance the capacity of African countries to realise these potential benefits. For example, this program has already helped; Benin fish exporters meet SPS requirements in export markets by delivering training on safe fish handling at the beach level; mango exporters of Mali through strengthening the institutional and operational capacities of the National Phytosanitary Control System; exporters of litchis from Madagascar by improving fruit production controls; Malawi's paprika exporters address post-harvest management problems such as aflatoxin contamination; and the fruit and vegetable exporters of Tanzania establish a public-private Horticulture Development Council -- to name a few of the projects

Our focus this morning should be on identifying specific measures to help African exporters comply with food safety, animal and plant health standards that we collectively call SPS measures, and how this compliance can be achieved.

On this subject of compliance, it has become increasingly clear that compliance entails two main elements. The first is meeting official regulations on such topics as freedom from a particular pest or disease, using a particular pesticide or chemical below a critical limit etc .That will get your product on the dock side. Now, to get that product on the supermarket shelf, however, there is a growing body of private standards which need to be met. These cover a broad range of requirements and product facets: from traceability down to the level of smallholders through fair trade, organics, to new issues such as the carbon footprint of the product and the number of “food miles” it has run. For my part, I need no convincing of the need to address these issues in WTO discussions and negotiations if we are serious about boosting African exports.

In conclusion, let me note that though today's event has a specific geographical focus on East Africa, I am sure that the conclusions you will arrive at here will have resonance for the broader African continent. I look forward to hearing the report on the outcome of this session which will be presented to the plenary of the main Aid for Trade conference in the next day or two.

Thank you and I wish you a productive day!

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