O.I.E., W.T.O. strengthen cooperation

by Bryan Salvage
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PARIS, FRANCE — Leaders of the World Trade Organization and World Organization for Animal Health recently met and further emphasized the benefits of the animal-health standards published by the O.I.E. to the international community.

A large majority of the standards adopted by O.I.E. member countries and territories are designed to prevent sanitary risks linked with the world trade in animals and animal products, said Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the O.I.E.

"This trade is indispensable, especially to supply the poorest countries with animal protein, including in times of crisis," he added. "Yet, compliance with O.I.E. standards also results in the improvement of veterinary health governance in each member country and territory, and in so doing improves animal health and welfare throughout the world, while at the same time improving public health by preventing and controlling animal diseases transmissible to humans."

Both organizations discussed the need to hold joint discussions on how to avoid the potential disadvantages arising from the use of "private" standards relating to sanitary risks. Such standards have not been adopted within the framework of the S.P.S. Agreement and may contradict existing public standards democratically adopted by the O.I.E. and the Codex Alimentarius Commission in a fully-transparent procedure and based on scientific evidence.

The O.I.E. also referred to its standard-setting work in the field of animal welfare and the rise in stricter consumer demands in this respect in all countries of the world.

Regarding improving the competencies of stakeholders in all countries on international sanitary rules applicable to trade, the W.T.O. and the O.I.E. reaffirmed their commitment to the Doha Declaration issued by the W.T.O., O.I.E., W.H.O., the World Bank and F.A.O., and to the Standards and Trade Development Facility to help developing countries fulfill the requirements of the S.P.S. Agreement.

"The value of the W.T.O. organizing information and training seminars in all regions with the O.I.E. for the benefit of Veterinary Service officials, and especially those in charge of sanitary certification of animals and animal products for export, is now a well established fact, said Pascal Lamy, W.T.O. director-general. "These seminars should be continued, along with the allocation of S.T.D.F. grants aimed at facilitating the preparation of national or regional projects to strengthen the sanitary safety of international trade and market access opportunities for all those that so wish."

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