SANITARY AND PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES
The SPS Declaration was adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in June 2022. The work programme of the Declaration established five thematic groups based on the themes outlined in the text:
- Group 1: How to facilitate global food security and more sustainable food systems
- Group 2: How to support basing SPS measures on scientific evidence and principles
- Group 3: How to enhance the safe international trade in food, animals and plants, and products thereof through the adaptation of SPS measures to regional conditions
- Group 4: How to encourage cooperation with observer organizations that support the work of the SPS Committee and the international standard setting bodies
- Group 5: How to increase participation of and support for the special needs of developing and least developed country members in the development and application of SPS measures.
Led by co-stewards, who play the role of neutral facilitators, these groups were mandated to regularly report to the Committee, with a view to ensuring all SPS delegates are informed of ongoing discussions through oral reports at intersessional consultations and written summaries/proposals for further discussion in the SPS Committee.
During the intersessional consultations, members heard the reports of the five thematic groups, following several meetings held over the previous two days. During these meetings, members discussed written inputs and agreed to seek contributions from external actors on emerging challenges and new opportunities facing international trade in food, animals and plants, including population growth, climate change, new technologies, innovation, and pest/disease pressures.
Members agreed that the space normally allocated to thematic sessions and/or workshops on the margins of the March and July 2023 Committee meetings be dedicated to discussions around the MC12 SPS Declaration work programme.
The WTO Secretariat has created a dedicated, restricted webpage (wto.org/spsdeclaration) for members to track information, including meeting times, links for the thematic groups and inputs provided by members for discussion.
Moving forward, the next SPS Committee week (20-24 March) will again feature meetings of the different thematic groups on the work programme of the MC12 SPS Declaration. Members were invited to propose speakers for Group 1 — on challenges facing producers — and Group 2 — on experiences dealing with uncertainty in risk assessment.
Group 5 will hold a workshop on solutions to strengthen SPS capacity in developing and least developed countries, organized with the Standards and Trade Development Facility. Ahead of the meeting, the WTO Secretariat will prepare a written document on discussions on sustainability in other WTO fora.
The Secretariat will also request the so-called “three sisters” — the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) — to make presentations on risk assessment and uncertainty during the meeting of Group 2. Members will also hear from producers and international organizations.
The Chair of the SPS Committee, Mr Tang-Kai Wang of Chinese Taipei, thanked members for their “constructive and engaged approach to this process” and looked forward to continuing the discussions on the work programme launched by the MC12 SPS Declaration.
He reminded members that the SPS Committee will have to report to the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) scheduled to take place in the week of 26 February 2024, including key findings and actions with recommendations.
This means time is tight, he said. Based on the proposed process for the work programme (W/330/Rev.1) agreed at the previous meeting of the SPS Committee in November 2022, a draft report should be ready for the Committee's consideration in July 2023, he added. The final report should be adopted at the November 2023 SPS Committee meeting, the last before MC13.