In a significant commitment to global trade facilitation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has entered into a five-year agreement with the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), pledging financial support from 2023 to 2028. This partnership reflects the USDA's dedication to aiding developing countries in meeting international food safety, animal health, and plant health standards, ultimately fostering safe and secure trade.
The initial contribution of USD 150,000 (approximately CHF 135,000) from the USDA marks the commencement of this collaboration, which aims to empower nations in enhancing their sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacities through science-based approaches. Such initiatives are instrumental in helping countries align with international standards, gain access to global markets, and strengthen their participation in regional and global value chains. Consequently, this support is anticipated to bolster export revenues, increase incomes, and raise living standards for producers, while simultaneously contributing to poverty reduction, improved food security, and environmental protection.
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, lauded the United States for its steadfast support of the STDF and broader WTO technical assistance initiatives. She emphasized that this commitment reflects the U.S.' ongoing dedication to enhancing the SPS capacities of developing nations, which, in turn, aids them in accessing international markets. The collaborative efforts under the STDF's global partnership exemplify how Aid for Trade can effectively address poverty reduction, bolster food security, and protect the environment.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO, H.E. Ms. María Pagán, highlighted the importance of technical assistance in facilitating agricultural trade, which plays a crucial role in increasing the availability, accessibility, and affordability of safe and nutritious food. This support becomes especially relevant as the SPS Committee prepares to report on the work program of the SPS Declaration, addressing modern SPS challenges, at the upcoming 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13). She commended the STDF's vital contributions in delivering effective, transparent, and science-based programs and disseminating results.
The consequences of non-compliance with international SPS standards and requirements are significant, resulting in market rejections, economic losses for producers, food recalls, and health risks for consumers. The USDA's contribution will enable the STDF to empower small-scale farmers, producers, and traders in accessing global and regional food markets through innovative and collaborative SPS projects.
Beyond financial support, the long-term partnership with the USDA will enhance the STDF's coordination and knowledge-sharing platform. It will identify lessons learned and promote best practices to improve SPS capacity development outcomes globally. This includes addressing cross-cutting topics such as gender inclusion and climate change, recognizing their impact on agricultural and food trade.
Over the years, the United States has contributed approximately USD 29 million to various WTO trust funds since 2002.
The STDF, a global multi-stakeholder partnership, was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the WTO. It operates under the auspices of the WTO and serves as a driving force for inclusive and secure trade. The STDF's initiatives align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, promoting sustainable economic growth, food security, and poverty reduction.