Speaking at the course's opening ceremony, Edwini Kessie, Director of the WTO's Agriculture and Commodities Division, stressed the importance of protecting human, animal and plant health whilst minimizing unnecessary barriers to trade. He further stressed the importance of the SPS Agreement in addressing modern challenges, such as food security concerns.

“International trade works best when exporting and importing countries agree on a common set of principles to remove unnecessary trade barriers, avoid unpleasant surprises and inform each other when requirements change,” he said. “As such, the Agreement sets out the basic rules to ensure that sanitary and phytosanitary requirements are science-based and transparent, and that they are not overly restrictive to trade.”

He added: “The SPS Agreement strongly encourages members to align their national requirements with the relevant international standards developed by Codex, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).”

Through lectures, participant-led presentations, roundtables and practical case studies, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the provisions of the SPS Agreement and the functioning of its Committee. Another key aspect of the course is the development of action plans that participants will be required to implement upon returning to their respective countries to address SPS challenges or market access issues.

“The course is designed to be participatory. I encourage you all to make the most of it. You are expected to develop an action plan that will enable you to take the initiative to implement changes in your respective countries when you get back home. To do this, you will benefit from the support of coaches in addition to the expertise of the trainers,” Christiane Wolff, SPS Committee Secretary, told the participants.

In addition to the input of WTO Secretariat officials, participants will benefit from the expertise of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL), the international standard setting bodies (Codex, IPPC, WOAH), the chair of the SPS Committee, SPS delegates actively involved in the work of the Committee, and external consultants.

More information on the SPS Agreement and the SPS Committee is available here.




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