SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES

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Based on a proposal by Canada in the context of the Fifth Review of the Operation and Implementation of the SPS Agreement, the workshop looked at the concept of risk analysis within the SPS Agreement and provided an overview of the provisions of the SPS Agreement related to risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.

Through roundtable discussions, presentations, practical case studies, polls and Q&A sessions, the workshop fostered exchanges on SPS risk analysis, allowing participants to share experiences and best practices. Participants also benefited from a number of side sessions, which offered an opportunity to interact informally with speakers. A catalogue of relevant resources (international standards, guidelines and recommendations, presentations, handbooks, guides, tools, links to previous events, and online courses) to support governments in building and operationalizing risk analysis frameworks had been made available in advance of the workshop. 

Discussions explored relevant provisions of the SPS Agreement as well as relevant international standards and guidance from Codex Alimentarius, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Participants also looked at selected tools, such as  the FAO-OIE-WHO Tripartite Joint Risk Assessment Operational Tool, to address health risks arising from animal diseases in an interdisciplinary manner, and SPS voluntary guidance developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Innovative approaches in risk assessment and risk management by the international standard-setting bodies were discussed, including those in the area of e-commerce. Representatives from Brazil, China, Kenya, the European Union, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Chinese Taipei and the United States shared their experiences, and discussed challenges, including those related to capacity, data availability and quality, and emerging risks. Private sector perspectives on risk management and experiences with public-private coordination in risk management were also shared.

Participants benefited from presentations on risk communication from Codex, IPPC, OIE and FAO and on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) regional framework on food safety risk communication. In addition, representatives from Canada, China, the European Union, Chinese Taipei and the United States shared experiences on effective communication between and among risk assessors and risk managers, and on translating risk assessment and management into effective communication messages.

The workshop ended with case study presentations on the different risk analysis components. Representatives from Canada, the European Union, Chinese Taipei and the United Kingdom as well as from the private sector provided insights on risk communication approaches and highlighted the importance of stakeholder engagement and trust building among stakeholders.

Presentations and recordings from all sessions of the workshop will be made available on the dedicated website.

Information on previous WTO events on SPS risk is available via the following links: Thematic SPS Workshop on Risk Analysis (13-14 October 2014); and SPS Thematic Session on Risk Communication (15 July 2015).

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