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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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12 July 2017, Geneva

FAO-WTO Joint Publication Launch
"Trade and Food Standards"

It is a great pleasure for me to present this FAO-WTO joint publication, together with my dear friend Roberto Azevedo.

This is only one of many things – good things – we are doing together.

FAO’s core mandate is to end hunger and malnutrition in the world, as well as to promote sustainable agriculture development.

But there can be NO food security and improved nutrition without food safety.

And food safety and food standards are also crucial to unlock the potential of an important tool to fight hunger, which is trade.

Trade is likely to play an increasing role in meeting the demand from food-deficit countries, especially due to the impacts of climate change, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

In this context, the CODEX Alimentarius is gaining even more importance in order to protect the health of consumers, and also ensure fair practices in food trade.

In conjunction with the WTO Agreements, the CODEX standards form a system of rules to ensure that food is safe, of high quality and that it can be traded without undue barriers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This FAO-WTO joint publication targets a broad audience, but particularly national decision-makers who work on trade and food safety.

And this is not only important at national level. All concerned stakeholders must be integrated into this process.

Public and – especially - private sector, operators from all parts of the food value chain, civil society organizations, academic and research institutions.

They all have essential roles in developing sound and credible systems of food safety management.

Countries also need to be able to better understand the scientific aspects of food safety.

This is important for influencing the international standard setting agenda, and also communicating effectively with trading partners.

FAO seeks to support its Members in building their scientific and technical capacity, and also the skills to undertake risk assessment.

Together with the WTO and other partners, FAO is a founding member of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).

This helps identify and promote best practices in food safety to facilitate trade and promote public health globally.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The collaboration between FAO and WTO goes well beyond this joint publication.

It extends into many other areas and activities.

For instance, the contribution of WTO was most valuable in shaping the results and messages of the last edition of FAO’s flagship report The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO), which was dedicated to the theme of trade and food security.

I am confident that the next edition of this report, which will explore the linkages between trade and climate change, will benefit from WTO’s inputs.

Importantly, we also work closely together in the context of the Agricultural Markets Information System (AMIS). AMIS is an inter-agency platform established by the G20 in 2011, in order to enhance food market transparency and policy response, with the secretariat housed in FAO. WTO supports us very much on this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before concluding, let me highlight that just last Monday, OECD and FAO launched the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook for 2017-2026.

One of the conclusions of the report is that food imports are becoming increasingly important for food security, as I said before, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, due to the impacts of climate change.

This is also true for most of the least developed countries and traditional food import countries.

The report also highlights that food exports will remain more and more concentrated on a few supplier countries. This raises the possibilities of supply shocks.

And the most important conclusion, in my opinion, is that food prices in real terms will most probably remain below previous years, affecting producers in many countries.

In other words, the era of high commodity prices is over. We expect a decade of decreasing prices due to weak demand globally for food, especially cereals, vegetable oils and even meat.

So, in this context, it is very important to promote market openness and fair trade.

Countries should avoid the temptation to implement, for example, export subsidies or other measures that can distort global trade. Otherwise, global food security can be more and more affected.

I thank you for the opportunity to address this assembly.