4-5 March 2019, Amman, Jordan
Under the patronage of the Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Omar Al Razzaz, the Arab Federation of Food Industries (AFFI), in partnership with the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has organized the Arab Food Industries Forum on Food Safety and Trade Facilitation. Over two days, the event engaged more than 300 participants from the Arab private sector, academia, and relevant public sector institutions.
The Arab region has one of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade despite preferential market access provided under the Pan-Arab Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA). The potential exists, but is yet untapped, and analysis show that by removing remaining obstacles to trade, there is potential to increase total trade of member states by 10% and to create at least 2 million jobs.
The forum facilitated discussions on various topics such as: food safety challenges in selected sectors, for example, edible oils, dairy, meat, vegetables and fruits; the role of food safety in packaging; and the nexus between food safety and intra-regional trade.
The challenges the region is facing in this field are manifold, and it was re-confirmed by all participants that in order to increase intra-regional trade and enhance food safety in the region, it is essential to leverage private sector knowledge, technical expertise and technology, as well as training capabilities, and to maximize their contribution to the required development and harmonization of food safety regulatory measures and standards in the Arab region. Furthermore, it was stressed that the participation of the Arab food private sector group in global forums, conferences, related to food safety, should be further increased.
The event was implemented within the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation, known as the SAFE Initiative, funded by Sweden, with the key objective of facilitating regional trade in food and enhancing regional economic integration through strengthening the regional coordination and harmonization mechanisms on conformity assessment and food safety. The project is implemented with the League of Arab States (LAS), the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO), and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD).