Within the framework of the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE), high level representatives from the League of Arab States (LAS), the Arab Industrial Development Organization (AIDMO), the Arab Organization for Agriculture Development (AOAD) and the Union of Arab Chambers (UAC) participated in a study tour to Geneva-based trade-related international organizations, aiming at expanding their knowledge in regard to the trade nexus of Sanitary- and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
The specialized study tour was organized by UNIDO for four days, in partnership with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and it targeted seven officials of before listed partner organisations of the SAFE project. The programme included dedicated sessions delivered by the WTO on the SPS and TBT agreement, underlying basic principles and transparency, trade facilitation, as well as guidance on how to address SPS related trade issues. Furthermore, the participants could benefit from complementary sessions which were delivered by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).
Throughout the last years the Arab region has been working hard on the establishment of a regional SPS framework, aiming at facilitating trade in food and enhancing consumer protection, and regional cooperation and harmonization among member states of the LAS is seen as critical in this endeavor of the region. To this effect the study tour has facilitated active knowledge sharing and building among all relevant regional and international organizations and it generated concrete recommendations on how the regional efforts of upgrading the Pan Arab Free Trade Agreement to efficiently address SPS matters in the region can best be supported and further advanced.
In this context, also the Geneva-based permanent missions of concerned Arab countries were interested to learn more about latest achievements made in the region in this regard, and they expressed their readiness to support the efforts of UNIDO and LAS at the WTO level, and specifically at the SPS and TBT committees.
The SAFE project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with LAS, AIDMO, and AOAD.