Making progress on international commodity standards for phytosanitary measures

Posted on Fri, 28 Jun 2019, 14:10

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IPPC Focus group on commodity standards second meeting in 2019. Participants included Focus group members and the IPPC Secretariat. © FAO

21 June 2019, Rome - An important element of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) s work is to safeguard agriculture and facilitate safe trade. As part of this effort, the new IPPC Strategic Framework 2002-2030 includes developing commodity and pathway specific standards. Much progress on this topic was made during the second meeting of the IPPC focus group on commodity standards with its newly revised terms of reference (ToRs).

The meeting took place in Rome from 17 to 21 June 2019 and was attended by eight international experts and representatives from various IPPC subsidiary bodies. It was chaired by Mr Greg Wolff - the CPM Bureau member from Canada.

But what are these new commodity and pathways standards? As their name implies, they are commodity-based international standards for phytosanitary measures (ISPMs). They may be accompanied by diagnostic protocols and phytosanitary treatments to support implementation. These standards will help national plant protection organizations harmonize their phytosanitary measures; support pest risk analysis activities; improve import regulatory systems; and establish export-oriented production systems. They will also help simplify trade and market access negotiations.

The focus group stressed that commodity standards were designed to be a starting point for negotiations. They do not impose any new obligations on importing countries or compromise the need for pest risk analysis (PRA). They clarified that individual standards would be annexes to the concept standard; and that including pest lists would not provide technical justification for regulating those pests.

The focus group then went on to develop text for the draft over-arching concept of commodity standards. They noted that it might not be possible to develop standards for all types of commodities.

Regarding the governance process, the focus group developed criteria for identifying measures and including them in commodity standards. They emphasised that these measures should be both practical and feasible to be included. They will also make a recommendation to Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-15) to establish a new Technical Panel on Commodity Standards under the Standards Committee (SC).

The focus group meeting will present the results of their discussions to the IPPC Strategic Planning Group, the Standards Committee (SC) and the Implementation and Capacity Development Committee (IC). The full set of recommendations will be presented to the CPM-15 in 2020.

The report of the meeting will be available at

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