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> Speeches of former WTO Directors-General
Let me begin by thanking Minister Mramba for
hosting us this morning and for his warm words of welcome. We are
grateful to him and his government for their willingness for hosting
this regional conference on Aid for Trade. We are also grateful to the
African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka and his team for
organizing this conference and today's side event.
I also wish to recognise the presence of Dr Bernard Vallat, Director
General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), with whom I
have just held a working meeting this morning.
We have convened this Standard and Trade Development Facility (STDF)
meeting as part of the broader Aid for Trade event which is focused
specifically on Africa. As you are aware, our objective is to focus
attention on Africa's trade related capacity challenges and to mobilise
the required resources to address them. Similar events have already
taken place in Lima, Peru, for the Latin America/Caribbean region and
Manila, Philippines for the Asia Pacific region. These will lead to the
first global aid for trade event taking place in Geneva on 20-21
The STDF is a joint initiative of 5 international organisations, the FAO,
the OIE, the World Bank, the WHO and the WTO that has two strategic
aims: Firstly, it seeks to assist developing countries enhance their
expertise and capacity to analyze and to implement international
sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, improving their human,
animal and plant health situation, and thus their ability to benefit
from existing and new market access opportunities; and secondly, it
aims to better coordinate the activities of donors, the mobilization of
funds, the exchange of experience and the dissemination of good practice
in relation on SPS related areas.
Since its launch in 2002, the STDF has financed 15 projects and 17
project preparation grants for African countries, representing 46% of
total expenditure. This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the
program to Africa. In addition, these projects have primarily been based
on the priorities that LDCs have identified, thus ensuring consistency
with their national priorities.
The STDF is one of the means to translate theoretical into real market
access. One of the objectives of the ongoing WTO Doha Development Round
is to further reduce obstacles to trade, but we all know that the
benefits of trade opening will not automatically be realised by African
countries because of their of their supply side constraints.
What is therefore required is to provide coordinated support to these
countries to help them address these bottlenecks in order to fully
benefit from the results of the Doha Round. This is where aid for trade
and in particular, the STDF program is relevant.
For Africa, the Doha Round will deliver enhanced market access into
developed and developing country markets through their commitment to
provide duty free quota free access for the least developed countries.
In addition, the Round will result in sharp reductions in agricultural
subsidies in developed countries including those in the cotton sector
and, furthermore, will result in the elimination of export subsidies and
strengthened disciplines in fisheries subsidies.
The STDF program is very central to our efforts to enhance the capacity
of African countries to realise these potential benefits. For example,
this program has already helped; Benin fish exporters meet SPS
requirements in export markets by delivering training on safe fish
handling at the beach level; mango exporters of Mali through
strengthening the institutional and operational capacities of the
National Phytosanitary Control System; exporters of litchis from
Madagascar by improving fruit production controls; Malawi's paprika
exporters address post-harvest management problems such as aflatoxin
contamination; and the fruit and vegetable exporters of Tanzania
establish a public-private Horticulture Development Council -- to name a
few of the projects
Our focus this morning should be on identifying specific measures to
help African exporters comply with food safety, animal and plant health
standards that we collectively call SPS measures, and how this
compliance can be achieved.
On this subject of compliance, it has become increasingly clear that
compliance entails two main elements. The first is meeting official
regulations on such topics as freedom from a particular pest or disease,
using a particular pesticide or chemical below a critical limit etc
.That will get your product on the dock side. Now, to get that product
on the supermarket shelf, however, there is a growing body of private
standards which need to be met. These cover a broad range of
requirements and product facets: from traceability down to the level of
smallholders through fair trade, organics, to new issues such as the
carbon footprint of the product and the number of “food miles” it has
run. For my part, I need no convincing of the need to address these
issues in WTO discussions and negotiations if we are serious about
boosting African exports.
In conclusion, let me note that though today's event has a specific
geographical focus on East Africa, I am sure that the conclusions you
will arrive at here will have resonance for the broader African
continent. I look forward to hearing the report on the outcome of this
session which will be presented to the plenary of the main Aid for Trade
conference in the next day or two.
Thank you and I wish you a productive day!
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