Developing Countries

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6.2 Technical assistance

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It has often been difficult to adjust to, and comply with, the SPS measures necessary to achieve the appropriate level of protection in export markets, especially for exporters in developing countries. Article 9 of the SPS Agreement, which deals with technical assistance, recognizes this difficulty. In this article, Members agree to facilitate the provision of technical assistance. The assistance can be provided bilaterally, or through international organizations.

Article 9.1 specifies that technical assistance may, for example, be in the areas of processing technologies, research and infrastructure, and in the establishment of national regulatory bodies. It may take the form of advice, credits, donations and grants, including for the purpose of seeking technical expertise, training and equipment.

Article 9.2 encourages importing Members to provide technical assistance especially when substantial investments are required for an exporting developing country Member to fulfil its SPS requirements. The aim is to permit the developing country Member to maintain and expand its market access opportunities for the product involved.

The Ministerial Conference held at Doha in 2001 urged Members to provide the financial and technical assistance necessary to enable least-developed countries to meet the SPS requirements in their export markets, and to help these countries with their implementation of the SPS Agreement. (see paragraphs 3.6(i) and (ii) above).

Who provides assistance?

The WTO Secretariat provides assistance to developing and least-developed country Members in the implementation of the SPS Agreement. This has mainly taken the form of introductory seminars explaining Members’ rights and obligations. Increasingly, as countries make progress in the implementation of the Agreement, more specific seminars on problematic topics, for example risk assessment, have been provided. The Secretariat often provides its assistance in the form of regional seminars with the participation of the three standard-setting organizations. Assistance provided by the Secretariat is generally demand-driven.

Much technical assistance is provided bilaterally by WTO Members, as well as by international organizations, especially the three standard-setting organizations. Assistance can take many forms; from scientific advice to hands-on assistance in setting up national inspection services or investments in laboratory infrastructure.


The Committee  back to top

At the meetings of the SPS Committee, Members have the opportunity to request technical assistance, or to report on the technical assistance they have received or provided. In order to more effectively evaluate technical assistance, the Secretariat was asked to develop a typology of technical assistance activities (G/SPS/GEN/206). It is hoped that this typology will identify the most appropriate type of technical assistance to address different needs, and thus help to make technical assistance more useful and effective.

The Secretariat circulated a questionnaire on technical assistance needs (G/SPS/W/113). The responses to this questionnaire are contained in attachments to document G/SPS/GEN/295.



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