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This project is authorized by the following legislation:
7 USC 3291, International agricultural research, extension, and teaching, authorizes the Secretary in part (a) to (1) exchange research materials and results with the institutions or persons, and (5) work with transitional and more advanced countries in food, agricultural, and related research, development, teaching, and extension (including providing technical assistance, training, and advice to persons from the countries engaged in the activities and the stationing of scientists and other specialists at national and international institutions in the countries).
The Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs (OASA), International Regulations and Standards Division (IRSD) is a division of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), an agency within the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
IRSD’s strategic goals are to monitor and enforce Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) obligations in accordance to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) SPS Agreement, to advance the adoption of science-based international standards and regulations, and to coordinate with other U. S. government agencies to support United States Government’s (USG) SPS priorities.
OASA works with a number of other U. S. government agencies (e.g., U. S. Trade Representative, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Commerce, and USDA sister agencies), international organizations, and industry to promote the trade of safe food products globally.
As many Asian economies grow rapidly, governments are wrangling with complex public health issues including a pronounced need for updated food safety regulatory systems.
While food safety modernization is an essential part of effective agricultural regulation, this trend has caused an increase in onerous non-tariff barriers, as many of the 21 economies in the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region lack the capacity to develop these regulations in a way that is consistent with the SPS Agreement and doesn’t overly restrict trade.
This unfortunately is happening at a time when markets in the region are growing dramatically relative to our exports in the rest of the world.
As economies endeavor to update their systems, multi-economy discussion on export certificates and pesticide Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs), is extremely important to U. S. agricultural exports, and USDA and IRSD’s core goal of ensuring adherence to the WTO SPS Agreement.
Many economies lack the capacity to effectively assess food safety risk and as a result can put in place certificate requirements that are not based in science and overly restrict trade.
This misuse of the export certificate belies a need for further discussion on the broad range of tools economies can implement to ensure the safety of imported food, many of which are less trade restrictive than an official export certificate.
In addition, many developing economies lack the capacity to develop their own pesticide MRLs, and as a result either do not set an MRL, or default to an MRL of zero, which can unnecessarily restrict trade.
Overly restrictive MRLs may not be based in science.
Efforts to build regulatory capacity and encourage the adoption of Codex MRLs, which are more consistent with the WTO SPS Agreement, can help reduce these trade barriers.