CAFTA highlights food security and WTO reform at Geneva meeting

(Andrey Filippov/www.flickr.com/CC BY 2.0)

We all know the importance of trade, maintaining trade relationships, and what happens when those relationships hit road blocks.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC12) wrapped up June 15, in Geneva, Switzerland, where ministers from across the world attended to review the current trade system.

Greg Northey, director of industry relations at Pulse Canada, and board member of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), joined RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney from Geneva to break down some of the conversations that have happened at the conference.

Northey says the reality is, sometimes it may feel like the WTO is spinning its wheels, but it can have more impacts than we may realize.

“The reality is when we don’t have a trade deal, and even sometimes when we do, the rules that are under the WTO really impact our trade, it impacts our ability to export,” Northey says. “The WTO is meant to provide this plan and essentially make sure there’s a rules-based system that’s there for us. If we’re not providing input on what those rules should look like, somebody else is going to make them for us.”

As Northey explains, there are two main issues that seem to be taking up some of the oxygen in the room that CAFTA is really focused on: agriculture and food security, as well as WTO reform.

One of the main discussions CAFTA is seeking an outcome for, is text around Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), which as Northey says, is a piece of work that’s meant to focus on how we bring discipline to a science-based regulation, so all countries would have to adhere to it going forward.

“So much of what we face is based on SPS. It’s less about tariffs so much, because we’re knocking them down with trade deals. SPS is really where it’s at, and we’re on the cusp here of having essentially work done in that area. It’s really promising,” he explains.

Check out the full conversation between Northey and Haney, below: