Ministry of Environment and Water organises workshop on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of WTO

The Ministry of Environment and Water, MoEW, recently hosted a workshop on the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary, SPS, measures and its provisions to build human capacity in terms of understanding and implementing the provisions of the SPS Agreement and its national application.

The participants included experts from the MoEW, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Health, the Federal Customs Authority, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority as well as other relevant government, municipal and local authorities such as the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology.

The SPS Measures are considered among the most important multilateral standards of the World Trade Organisation, WTO. The UAE acceded to the SPS Agreement in 1996, where around 160 countries comply with WTO SPS Measures, which aim to regulate the health measures taken by the member states.

The regulation strives to protect human, animal and plant life and health from potential risks of transmission and spread of epidemics and pathogens through international trade.

Saif Mohammed Al-Shara’, assistant Under-Secretary for Agricultural and Livestock Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Water, said, “In accordance with the Ministry’s role as a country liaison to the SPS Agreement and in line with its strategic objectives to prevent agricultural pests and animal diseases and promote food safety, we organised the workshop to strengthen the role of the Ministry’s partners concerned with the implementation of the provisions of the SPS Agreement.

The workshop also discussed the SPS Agreement and its annexes, types of notifications, and a mechanism to implement them. Additionally, the event talked about the process of preparing and publishing the UAE’s own regulations. It also reviewed the measures taken by WTO member states as well as discussed future actions aimed at enforcing the SPS Agreement and its local application. The event also served as a platform to address biosecurity and food safety in relation to the Agreement.

According to MoEW, in 2011, the country imported an estimated 8.8 million tons of agricultural food products worth AED21 billion and exported approximately 164,000 tons worth AED383.5 million. During the same year, its re-export of agricultural products was about 1.472 million tons worth AED4.667 billion.

The imports of live animals and their products during the same period amounted to 1.184 million tons worth AED11.3 billion; exports, about 87,000 tons worth AED1.180 billion; and re-exports was about 55,000 tons valued at AED487.4 million.

The numbers indicated the scope of global interest in the UAE. The Ministry is working to position the country as a major international trade hub by harmonising and integrating local veterinary quarantine regulations with the global system to ensure smooth flow of goods to and from the UAE.