APEC to eliminate trade bottlenecks to meet demand for food
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members agreed to establish a stronger food safety system as well as improve their trade ties in order to deliver a wider array of safe and cost competitive food to the region’s three billion consumers.
A statement showed that APEC efforts to improve recognition of ‘equivalent’ food safety systems in the region were boosted during technical consultations in Lima, an approach that could help reduce disproportionately high barriers to trade with the sector.
“There is a real opportunity to meet growing food demand by easing standards bottlenecks to cross-border trade faced by agriculture and fishery businesses, including small local producers,” said Victor Gabi, Chair of the APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance.
“Work underway in APEC to support recognition of food safety system equivalence aims to facilitate trade while ensuring safeguards against foodborne illnesses,” he added.
Collaboration in the region is focused on strategically addressing scientific, administrative and coordination challenges to establishing whether food controls of one system are equivalent with another, in accordance with international standards.
The goal is to enable industry regulators to protect food production and supply chains from threats like E. choli, Hepatitis A and Salmonella without the need for duplicative import process requirements and audits that can delay shipments and raise trade costs.
“Food safety systems may be designed and structured differently based on unique local conditions but they still can achieve the same goals,” said Julio Chan, APEC General Coordinator for Peru’s Foreign Trade and Tourism Ministry.
“Authorities in APEC are exchanging policy tools and knowhow to help each other assess food safety system equivalence. Adjustments in approach can make a big difference, supporting decisions that strengthen industry supply chains without sacrificing public health,” he added.
Moving forward, officials will review the progress of work in APEC to build food safety cooperation and decide on the next steps when they convene in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea next month.