BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– The health of humans, animals and plants, especially with respect to the requirements of international trade is being discussed by representatives from various government ministries and agencies participating in a three-day workshop at the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centre to discuss the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement.
During the opening ceremony marking the launch of the Nov. 13 to 15 workshops, Minister of International Trade, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, said, “International trade and travel have expanded significantly over the past 50 years. This has increased the movement of products that may pose health risks. This agreement recognizes that we need the WTO members to protect themselves from the risks posed by the entry of pests and diseases, but it also seeks to minimize any negative effects on the SPS measures on trade.”
Minister Grant explained that the health aspect of the SPS Agreement means that the WTO members can protect the lives of humans, animals and plants by applying measures to manage the risks associated with imports.
“The SPS measures usually take the form of quarantine or food safety requirements,” he said. “These measures that the WTO members apply can be classified as sanitary, that is, those relating to human or animal life or health, or phytosanitary, those relating to plant life or health.”
Minister Grant stressed the importance of such measures.
“One should not forget that developing countries, members like St. Kitts and Nevis, are also important importers of food and agricultural products and face sanitary and phytosanitary risks from imported products,” noted the minister. “In this respect, we have an interest in being allowed sufficient flexibility by international trade rules to enact SPS measures and regulations appropriate to our needs and capabilities.
“The Department of Agriculture is the focal point for SPS,” Minister Grant said. ‘It has the responsibility of setting and administering the national SPS measures. The Department of Agriculture also works closely with other government agencies such as the Ministry of Health, the Department of Marine Resources and the Bureau of Standards in meeting its rights and obligations under the SPS Agreement, said the Minister of International Trade.”
Minister Grant stated that the workshop “is evidence of the sustained efforts by the Ministry of International Trade as part of their continued training initiatives and exercises. It is for such reasons we are especially pleased with the assistance being provided by the World Trade Organization. We look forward therefore to the continued support of the WTO as we endeavour to improve the opportunities for our people in our small proud island nation.”