WTO: 2008 NEWS ITEMS

NOTE:
THIS NEWS ITEM IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WTO. WHILE EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE ACCURATE, IT DOES NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS’ POSITIONS. THE OFFICIAL RECORD IS IN THE MEETING’S MINUTES

SEE ALSO:
> Press releases
> News archives
> Pascal Lamy’s speeches
> SPS news archive

  
FIND OUT MORE
about SPS’s “three sisters” — the international standards-setting bodies:
> Codex Alimentarius
> World Organization for Animal Health
> International Plant Protection Convention

The non-binding guidelines for implementing regionalization were approved in the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Committee’s 2–3 April 2008 meeting, provided no country objected by 15 May. (Officially, the committee adopted the guidelines “ad referendum”.) The guidelines include various recommended steps to be taken by an importing and an exporting country discussing the recognition of a region’s status.

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures deal with food safety and animal and plant health. For regionalization, the key concept is recognition that an exporting region (all or part of a country or a border-straddling zone) is disease-free or pest-free (or has a lower incidence). When importing countries recognize different situations in different regions, their restrictions on products from areas with disease do not apply to whole countries. It is often raised as a specific trade concern as well as being discussed as a subject in its own right. (The issues are outlined in a Secretariat paper, G/SPS/GEN/640/Rev.1).

The text that members conditionally adopted comes from the work of a small group of countries, coordinated by New Zealand and is a compromise after about one year of work within the group and five years of discussion in the SPS Committee. It has been circulated in document G/SPS/W/218), as non-binding guidelines for implementing regionalization. These include various recommended steps to be taken by an importing and an exporting country discussing a region’s status.

In an informal meeting on 1 April 2008, some countries involved in the group signalled their disappointment that the guidelines are not stronger in trying to avoid “undue delays” in recognizing a region’s status. But others urged them to accept the compromise so that what has been agreed so far can be implemented; the guidelines can be revised in the future on the basis of experience, they said.

 

Next meetings

These dates (with informal meetings on other days in the week) could still be changed:

  • 24–25 June 2008

  • 8–9 October 2008


Jargon buster

regionalization: recognition that an exporting region (all or part of a country or a border-straddling zone) is disease-free or pest-free (or has a lower incidence).
sanitary and phytosanitary measures: measures dealing with food safety
and animal and plant health.
Sanitary: for human and animal health. Phytosanitary: for plants and plant products

> More jargon: glossary

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