Facilitating trade without compromising human, plant and animal health – Highlights from the Border Agency Cooperation Workshop in South Africa

Posted on Thu, 20 Dec 2018, 12:03

16 November 2018, Cape Town - The 2017 landmark World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) seeks to facilitate trade by reducing red tape and bureaucracy at borders; while promoting cooperation among border agencies. Indeed, the WTO estimates that the “full implementation of the TFA could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent and boost global trade by up to USD 1 trillion per year, with the biggest gains in the poorest countries”.

In order to explore ways to implement the TFA without compromising sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, a Border Agency Cooperation Workshop was organized in Cape Town, South Africa from 14 to 16 November 2018. Over 80 participants attended the workshop including delegations from 12 African countries and representatives from various national agencies involved in regulating border crossings.

The purpose of the workshop was to:

  • help improve border agency cooperation at the national and regional levels, and in transit countries;

  • raise awareness about the links between the TFA and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement; and

  • explore ways to facilitate safe trade, while ensuring human, animal and plant health.

The representative from the IPPC Secretariat delivered the following presentations to customs authorities:

  • How the IPPC helps facilitates safe trade in plants, plant products and regulated articles

  • Phytosanitary considerations for consignments in transit

  • Overview of the IPPC

Participants from different sectors and countries in the region discussed ways to better facilitate safe trade and generally concluded that boosting cooperation was essential. The issue of pest risk management also came up several times. It was acknowledged that pest risk analysis to determine import requirements differed from risk management at the border. Participants therefore requested more guidance on how to manage risks related to SPS activities at the border.

The workshop was delivered by the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility (TFAF) Secretariat in partnership with the WTO Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), the World Bank Group and the OIE, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

Two more similar workshops are being planned for 2019.

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