WTO experts to enlighten Sri Lankan exporters on SPS measures
Sun, Feb 19, 2017, 11:58 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Feb 19, Colombo: Two leading experts from World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva are in Sri Lanka to enlighten the Sri Lankan exporters on the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
Counsellor, Division on Trade and Environment of the WTO Erik Wijkström and its Economic Affairs Officer Ms. Roshan Khan will join a session on SPS measures organized by the Department of Commerce, under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Colombo on Monday.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, under whose direction work began on Sri Lanka’s SPS measures in September 2014 in Colombo with WTO, expressed his satisfaction on the latest WTO Colombo session during his discussion with top officials on 16th February at the Ministry.
“Such a highly technical process should not be an obstacle or barrier to the keen Lankan exporters but we should take advantage of it. The 20 February session could show us how to do this,” the Minister said.
The agricultural exports of a country is the sector greatly impacted by SPS, which food safety and animal and plant health measures. Around 22 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual exports are agricultural, at US$ 2.5 Billion.
With increasing trade among WTO members, health concerns about goods crossing their borders are growing and as a result, use of SPS is increasing.
Sections of global trade stress that there is a tendency of SPS introduced two decades ago in 1995 by the WTO is becoming a non-tariff barrier (NTB) and a hidden protection from competition, in international trade.
Tomorrow’s session is not targeted only at Lankan exporters but also aimed at Sri Lankan officials and other experts involved in SPS measures for export products. The session is expected to assist participants towards a close scrutiny of the measures and how to adopt them.
The WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures regularly conveys to relevant Sri Lankan authorities such as Health Ministry when a new product is added to the SPS schedule. Among many such products added lately and notified to Sri Lanka are milk and milk products, salt, carbonated beverages (for sugar levels), food coloring and additives, GMOs (Soya, corn, fresh tomato, beet-sugar etc.) and labelling of food.