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STDF Workshop “Using Economic Analysis to inform SPS Decision Making”

In accordance with its mandate to exchange experiences and disseminate good practice in relation to the provision and receipt of SPS-related technical cooperation, the STDF has organized a workshop in Geneva on 30 October 2009 on the use of economic analysis to inform and enhance decision-making in the area of food safety, animal and plant health (sanitary and phytosanitary measures or SPS).

Workshop: The SPS Committee and the International Standard-Setting Organizations

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See also:
More on sanitary and phytosanitary measures

STDF website





Objectives of the workshop

Political support and commitment is essential to ensure that adequate resources are available to control potential SPS risks and implement SPS measures. However, competing priorities and financial constraints often mean that resources are in short supply in countries. In some cases it is only after a major food safety incident or animal disease or plant pest outbreak has occurred – and considerable resources have been spent on control – that attention focuses on the benefits and cost-savings of improving SPS systems and capacities to prevent such outbreaks.

The purpose of this workshop is to share experiences from countries and organizations that have used economic analysis to support SPS decision-making. The aim is to demonstrate how economic analysis can generate information that is valuable to improve SPS decision-making and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of available resources. In doing so, the workshop will illustrate why it makes economic sense to invest in improvements to SPS systems and capacity, which will help to garner high-level support for SPS capacity building, including the allocation of the resources required.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. Present research and experiences on the use of economic analysis to support decision making in the SPS area, including decisions on where to allocate resources. This will address the potential impacts of pest/disease outbreaks on trade and the costs of prevention and control versus outbreaks, as well as the expected returns of investments in SPS capacity in terms of human health and trade.
  2. Share information on practical tools and approaches to incorporate economic analysis into SPS decision-making.
  3. Identify challenges in expanding the use of economic analysis to inform SPS decision making in developing countries, and seek possible solutions.


Programme  back to top

> Workshop presentations and background documents

30 October 2009


Welcome and opening remarks

Miriam Chaves, Chairperson, SPS Committee


Session 1: Measuring the benefits, costs and distributional effects of adopting better food safety practices

This session will consider the costs, benefits, impacts and distributional effects of implementing better food safety practices, in terms of consumer health as well as marketplace impacts. Presentations will consider ex ante and ex post studies that attempt to quantify the costs and benefits of implementing enhanced food safety controls, such as pathogen control programmes.

  • Spencer Henson, Professor, International Food Economy Research Group, University of Guelph, Canada
  • Measuring the benefits and costs of FDA food safety regulations: 15 years of experience: David Zorn, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, US Food and Drug Administration
  • Discussion



Session 2: Costs and benefits of the prevention and control of animal diseases in “peace time” and in response to outbreaks

This session will explore the costs and benefits of preventing and controlling animal diseases in “peace time” and in response to outbreaks. Examples from recent economic studies led by the OIE and the FAO will be presented. The direct and indirect costs of outbreaks of specific animal diseases (such as avian influenza, foot and mouth disease) for particular countries/ regions will be considered, as well as the generic costs of operational veterinary services that meet OIE standards in “peace time”. The presentations will illustrate the role that economic analysis can play in supporting responsible decision-making in the areas of policy and strategy, and the challenges faced.

  • Costs of national prevention systems for animal diseases and zoonoses: A systemic perspective: Frank Alleweldt, Managing Director, Civic Consulting (on behalf of the OIE)
  • Economic impact of foot and mouth control and eradication in the Philippines: Reildrin Morales, Chief, Disease Control Section, Bureau of Animal Industry, The Philippines
  • Taking a value chain approach in economic analysis for Avian Influenza: Nicoline de Haan, Socio-economics Coordinator, Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, FAO
  • Discussion

Audio: Listen to Session 1 & 2    > help


Session 3: Assessing the economic effects of investing in plant health control programmes

This session will consider the costs and benefits of investing in phytosanitary capacity with examples from Belize and the Asia Pacific Region. The presentations will draw on studies undertaken by the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) to guide (ex ante) the allocation of resources in the plant health area, and by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to evaluate the ex post impact of investments in several countries in the Asia Pacific Region from 1984-2007.

  • Analyzing the costs and benefits of the Pink Hibiscus Mealybug in Belize: Hernan Zetina, Coordinator, Medfly Programme, Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA)
  • Use of economics in pest and disease management: Douglas Birnie, Director, Policy and Risk Management Directorate, Biosecurity New Zealand, New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Quantifying investments in fruit fly research and development in the Asia-Pacific region: Paul Vitolovich, Manager SPS Section & Special Advisor, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia
  • Discussion



Session 4: Incorporating economic analysis into SPS decision-making in practice

Building on the previous presentations and discussions, this session will consider practical approaches and strategies to make greater use of economic analysis in SPS-related decision-making processes, and the expected benefits. Presentations will discuss what is required to integrate economic analysis into SPS decision-making, as well as the challenges (e.g. availability of data and expertise), and future needs in this area for SPS technical cooperation.

  • Integrating economics with risk assessment to inform SPS decisions: Clare Narrod, Senior Research Fellow, Markets, Trade and Institutions, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Tools and approaches to use economic analysis in SPS decision-making: Spencer Henson, Professor, International Food Economy Research Group, University of Guelph, Canada


Concluding remarks and close

Audio: Listen to Session 3 and 4 and closing remarks    > help

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What is the STDF?
The Standards and Trade Development Facility is a joint initiative of the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Organization for Animal Health and Food and Agriculture Organization. The facility acts as a forum for sharing information on past, present and planned technical co-operation activities related to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. It also provides grant financing for projects and for the preparation of projects aiming to enhance developing countries’ capacity to meet SPS standards.