Pests like the Mediterranean fruit fly can spread to many parts of the world in next to no time. Surveillance, pest management, research and capacity building are critical to reduce production losses and facilitate safe trade.
Photos: STDF


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Trade in food and agricultural products offers a way for farmers, processors and traders in developing countries to increase their incomes and boost economic development. But despite the potential, they face many challenges. Limited capacity to meet food safety, animal and plant health requirements is often a major obstacle. To take full advantages of trade opportunities, developing countries receive support from the Standards and Trade Development Facility at the WTO.

Except for some agricultural products, custom tariffs in international trade are generally low. Market access for goods now largely depends on countries’ ability to comply with a wide range of non-tariff measures (NTMs). Governments use NTMs, such as taxes, subsidies and regulatory measures, to attain a wide range of policy objectives including health, safety, environmental protection and other social imperatives. Among NTMs, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are particularly relevant to international trade in food and agricultural products. Since these products are often of great importance to developing countries, much of their trade is subject to SPS rules and procedures. Surveys by international organisations have shown that NTMs can be particularly burdensome for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), because they entail fixed costs independent of the size of the exporter. When a new restrictive SPS measure is introduced in an export market, smaller exporting firms are more likely to exit that market.

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