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Enhancing the capacity of developing countries to implement international standards for commercial agricultural products to improve their trade competitiveness

Background:

Most developing and transitional economies lack the capital, technology and human resources to meet internationally agreed commercial agricultural quality standards. Because compliance with those standards is widely used by importing countries as a condition for granting access to developed-economy markets, developing and transitional economies are at a competitive disadvantage in the agricultural sector. The application of internationally agreed standards by developing countries, and especially by least developed countries, would facilitate the export of their agricultural products, stimulate the development of the agricultural sector and raise average incomes, especially among rural populations.

This ECE-led project will build capacity in poor and low-income economies for the implementation of international commercial quality standards and sanitary and phytosanitary measures for agricultural products. The project will utilise the expertise of the ECE in the development and practical use of quality standards in the region and worldwide. The project will be jointly executed with Regional Commissions and will draw upon the expertise of ECA, ECLAC, ESCAP and ESCWA on agricultural trade in the respective regions. The project will also take advantage of the expertise of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), who will collaborate on the project and provide technical assistance. Other international and national agencies, including FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius and UNIDO, are also expected to collaborate.

Objective:

To improve ability of low-income agrarian economies to implement international standards for commercial agricultural products and thus improve their competitiveness in international markets.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased knowledge of agricultural quality standards and understanding of the importance of strengthening of the importance of strengthening the institutional and technical infrastructure for their implementation and use, and of establishing related systems of conformity assessment (importing countries normally require certificates of conformity with applicable standards from relevant institutions in the exporting country)
  • Strengthened regional networks of national and international counterparts from the ministries responsible for trade, agriculture, and technical regulations and standards for commercial agricultural products, as well as from producers’ associations and/or cooperatives of farmers, export associations, consumers’ associations and chambers of commerce

Implementation status:

After the second year of implementation, significant outcomes and preliminary impacts have been realized to beneficiary countries: Policy-makers, growers and traders understand the importance of meeting the standards' requirements for their products to be accepted in international markets. The application of standards for fruits and vegetables helps African, CIS and other countries increase their production and export of good quality products. The application of the internationally agreed recommendations for seed potato certification protects the soil from contamination and improves the yields and quality of locally produced seed and consumption potatoes.

A network of national and international experts in standardization of agricultural products has been established and is maintained by means of communication through the list servers. Local and regional networks have been formed to work on specific projects, for example a network of experts in pineapple-exporting countries has been established to work on the UNECE Explanatory Brochure for Pineapples.

The presentations and discussions at a regional workshop in Indonesia covered a wide range of topics related to production and certification of seed potatoes. In Asia, consumption of potatoes is increasing. To obtain higher yields to meet the demand, production has to be based on high-quality seed. The results of a pre-workshop survey of the potato sector in Asia had shown that yields were highest in those countries which had a developed seed potato certification system.  And since bringing seed from developed countries is costly, many countries are developing their own production of quality seed. Thus, the application of the UNECE Standard for Seed Potatoes can provide significant benefits for the region.

Brochure:http://www.unece.org/publications/oes/Trade_Peppers.Compressed.pdf http://live.unece.org/trade.html