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    News Brief


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2010

    ITC to assist African export standards and quality

    ITC recently announced a partnership with African trade officials to improve the standard and quality of local small and medium-sized enterprises.

    ITC's Director of Business and Institutional Support, Aicha Pouye, said that the partnership is extremely important, as many African exporters have failed to exploit the international market because they do not meet market requirements in standards, supplies and quality. 'Knowledge of trade intelligence is one thing but to have it transformed downstream is another. We therefore have to work with local firms to have an impact on trade,' said Ms Pouye.

    The partnership aims to close the gap on the lack of trade information, which is cited as a major hindrance for competitive exportation of goods from the African continent. The partnership will involve local firms such as DMT Consultants, CEDA International and the Uganda Export Promotions Board to boost trade development.


    New International Cocoa Agreement named

    An agreement finalized at the recent United Nations Cocoa Conference will strengthen exporting and importing within the industry. Coined the International Cocoa Agreement 2010, the accord will bind participating states to development strategies imposed to improve the economies of cocoa importers and exporters, while maintaining the relationship between producers and consumers.

    Seen as an extension of the previous agreement, the new accord will also aim to deliver better-quality cocoa within food-safety standards and guidelines. The agreement will also establish social, economic and environmental sustainability for cocoa farmers.

    The existing agreement, which came into force in 2003, has been ratified by 14 exporter countries and 29 importer countries, representing roughly 60% of the world's cocoa consumers and 80% of the global producers. The new agreement will enter into force in 2012.


    International standards needed: NAMA

    World Trade Organization (WTO) members have called for the introduction of global standards concerning trade barrier tariffs that exist on specific industrial sectors.

    As the aim is to supersede national regulations with international standards, transparency between members has been highlighted as a fundamental issue in the debate.

    'The vision is that we are moving towards a global market, but we are not yet there,' said Swiss WTO Ambassador Luzius Wasescha, who chairs the Doha mandate for the Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations. 'A global market will need global standards,' he continued.

    Furthermore, a majority of members have determined that the international standards and trade should be infused with the principles of the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade. Non-trade barriers and international standards will be the primary focus of the next NAMA meeting which is to take place from 27-30 September 2010.


    Boost to promoting Intra-Asian Trade in Organic Products

    Participants from 12 countries in East, South-East and South Asia have declared their intent to move forward on measures to reduce and avoid barriers to the trade of organic products in the region.

    The decision was taken during the May 2010 workshop on Harmonization and Equivalence for Organic Agriculture in Asia convened under the auspices of the joint Food and Agriculture Organization, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Global Organic Market Access project.

    Participants said there is a strong rationale for taking steps to ease trade in organic products in the region, as organic agriculture can contribute to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals and play a major role in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

    An initial meeting of the working group will be held at BioFach India/India Organic in December 2010. The IFOAM Organic World Congress in September 2011 was chosen as the target date for announcing complete achievement or substantial progress on the harmonized standard, equivalence agreements and cooperation among conformity assessment bodies.


    East African Community adopts framework for cyberlaws to foster regional trade, investment

    In June 2010, a meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Task Force on Cyberlaws focused on putting into effect a Framework for Cyberlaws recently adopted by the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers on Transport, Communications and Meteorology.

    Signed on 7 May, the framework commits Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania to enact cyberlaws that will be effective across the region. These five EAC member countries consider adoption of harmonized cyberlaws critical for implementing e-government services effectively and for increasing regional trade and investment.

    UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said, 'Governments have a key role to play in fostering greater benefits from ICTs [information and communications technologies]. In particular, they should provide an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment that encourages the growth of e-commerce and e-governance. I congratulate the East African Community for pioneering in Africa the adoption of a regional harmonized Framework for Cyberlaws.'