“The WTO Secretariat is committed to assisting members with the implementation of the Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. It is also dedicated to providing essential support for the agriculture negotiations and assisting developing countries meet the market access requirements of trading partners,” said Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff, who noted “the vital importance of the food and agriculture sector to WTO members, particularly at a time when the world is faced by both health and economic crises.”
Committee on Agriculture
The new chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Ms Maria Escandor (the Philippines), will facilitate the meetings scheduled for 21-23 September and 30 November to 1 December. The September meeting will include the regular exchange of information on members' agricultural policies, a discussion to follow up on the Nairobi Decision on Export Competition and a review of the list of net food-importing developing countries (NFIDCs). It will also discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agriculture sector and the policies implemented by members in response to the crisis. Besides its usual policy review process, the November meeting will follow up on the NFIDC decision and will consider the path ahead for agricultural trade in view of the disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Committee on Agriculture in special session
At the meeting of the Committee on Agriculture in special session on 25 September, the new chair Ambassador Gloria Abraham (Costa Rica) will report back to members on her extensive consultations since the beginning of September and will invite members to discuss how the intensive work undertaken with the previous chair John Deep Ford may be taken forward. Members will have an opportunity to examine the current state of play in the negotiations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss the work plan in the run-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference.
The first anniversary of World Cotton Day will take place on 7 October. At the WTO Cotton Days of 12-13 November, members will review development assistance projects, with a focus on the first outputs of the joint initiative between the WTO, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the International Trade Committee on enhancing the use of cotton by-products in least-developed countries. The meetings will also monitor the trade-related aspects of cotton to inform the ongoing negotiations on cotton.
The WTO-UNCTAD-ITC joint initiative was launched in November 2018 to develop the economic potential of cotton by-products in response to a request by the Cotton-4 countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Committee
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Committee will meet informally on 16 September to prepare for the committee meetings scheduled to take place on 2-6 November. WTO members will follow up on the implementation of a new work programme which was agreed by members in July. At its September meeting, members will discuss an SPS Declaration for the 12th Ministerial Conference, the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the SPS Agreement as well as any topic that members may wish to discuss in further detail in the 2021 SPS thematic sessions.
Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)
On 23 September, a STDF webinar will allow developing countries, international organizations, donors and industry associations to discuss the next steps to scale up the ePhyto solution — an electronic phytosanitary certification project that has helped developing countries to facilitate safe trade in plants and plant products during the pandemic. On 13-15 October, the STDF Working Group will bring together the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, the World Health Organization, the WTO, the World Bank and other partners to share information about SPS capacity development and to consider applications for new projects to help disadvantaged groups in developing countries gain and maintain market access.