The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the international organization that deals with trade rules between nations. The key function of the WTO is to make sure that trade flows as smoothly as possible between its member countries. In addition, the WTO provides a platform for treaties to reduce trade barriers and contribute to economic growth and development of the member countries.
Afghanistan (a WTO member since 2016) has a favourable environment for quality production of high-value horticultural crops and in the last two decades significant progress has been made in establishing orchards over a large area in Afghanistan. It now produces a variety of fresh fruits and dried tree nuts which have good potential for export to international markets. However, the main challenge faced by Afghanistan’s agricultural exporters and producers is meeting the stringent Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements of international trading partners.
To trade successfully at an international level preventative approaches along the food value chain need to be adopted. The preventative approaches require a quarantine network and laboratories where the country’s agricultural produce can be inspected for pests and diseases based on SPS measures. Failure to do so can cause barriers in trade resulting in shipments from Afghanistan being blocked, reduced consumer trust in Afghan produce, and ultimately affect the agriculture production system and the country’s economy.
To avoid this risk, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) in Afghanistan needs to establish a well-functioning SPS system in the country. It is essential to increase the technical capacity of the Ministry’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Department (PPQD) and other stakeholders in the value chain which will consequently improve Afghanistan’s SPS system to facilitate trade. In addition, Afghanistan’s valuable agricultural industry depends on a reliable system that safeguard crop production against non-native invasive pests and diseases that may pose a threat to Afghan food and agriculture.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) works to maintain a level playing field in the international marketplace. USDA provides developing-country partners support on complying with internationally recognized trade standards and resolving specific trade issues through technical assistance, training, and exchanges. To support the Government of Afghanistan, in collaboration with USAID, the USDA is launching a remote learning activity for the capacity building of the PPQD staff to enable them to comply with the international SPS standards.
To implement this activity in Afghanistan USDA will work with key partners including CABI, Texas A&M University, the MAIL and PPQD. CABI, as the lead implementing partner will ensure the delivery of the program at all levels and liaise with the USDA and the stakeholders. This program will help to eliminate existing barriers to export trade for Afghanistan and to promote international harmonization of standards.
Main photo: Group photo of PPQD staff with CABI SPS coordinator in Afghanistan (Credit: CABI).
For more information, please contact:
Dr Muzammil Farooq
+92 (0)51 8434979
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