39. The promotion of Codex activities and extending membership of Codex among countries of the Regions has been a priority of CCNASWP since its first session in 1991. The absence and limited presence of developing countries was noted at the third and fourth sessions of CCNASWP and it was recognized that the major problem was due to financial constraints. Travel costs alone are considerable and attendance at meetings often required travel through more than one country.
40. Since the fourth session of the Committee, membership from the Pacific region had increased substantially; Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu had become members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It was noted that all eligible FAO members of the region were now Members of the Commission.
41. To facilitate the attendance of the Pacific island nations at the present session, a Workshop on Risk Analysis and Food Standards was organized on 5 October 1998 and had been attended by delegations from Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga (see also paras. 80-86).
42. The representative of FAO Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands reported on follow-up to the recommendations of the Committees fourth session to take action to improve the national food control infrastructures of the Pacific Island Countries and to increase their involvement in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
43. A first workshop on Food Control Strategy for the Pacific Island Countries, supported by the New Zealand government, had been held in Apia, Samoa on 27-28 October 1997. The Workshop had agreed on the urgent need to strengthen food control strategies both at national and regional level to adequately protect the health of consumers and to facilitate international food trade. The Workshop also recognized the importance of Pacific island countries becoming more involved in Codex activities and making use of food standards, recommendations and guidelines formulated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
44. A second workshop on Administration of National Codex Committees for the Pacific Island Countries, had been held in Auckland on 27-28 August 1998, in conjunction with a Round Table meeting on the Implication of the Uruguay Round Agreements on Agriculture and Fishery on the Pacific Island Countries. Senior officers from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health of these countries had attended the workshop, and representatives of the Codex Contact Points in Australia and New Zealand had contributed to the workshop.
45. The principal objectives of this workshop were to:
46. The Workshop made the following recommendations:
i. Appropriate steps be taken to promote interest in and raise awareness of the importance of Codex Alimentarius thereby attracting commitment by national governments to participate in its activities;47. The Committee generally endorsed the recommendations of the Workshop.
ii. The identification at national level constraints in terms of infrastructure (technical facilities, staff and operational resources) regarding full participation in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission;
iii. The strengthening of representation by the countries of the Pacific at meetings of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its subsidiaries;
iv. The formulation of a regional project aimed at:- reviewing the adequacy of food regulations;v. That the eligible countries in the Pacific region join the Codex Alimentarius Commission and those ineligible seek observer status with a view to participating as fully as possible in Codex activities;
- identifying constraints on full participation in Codex activities;
- identifying ways of providing assistance with the establishment and strengthening of National Codex Committee and Codex Contact Points; and
- identifying needs to maximize participation at country/regional level in Codex activities and prioritize them into a Plan of Action.
vi. The support of Australia, New Zealand and national governments of countries in the region be sought to enable the Pacific Island Countries to adopt and implement Codex standards;
vii. That further workshop/meetings be conducted at appropriate times to monitor and capitalize on progress made as a result of this Workshop;
viii. That assistance be sought from appropriate international and regional organizations to strengthen food control systems to enable the Pacific Island Countries to meet international requirements associated with the domestic, import and export food trade.
48. The Samoan delegation stressed the need for technical and financial assistance to implement these recommendations and to strengthen Codex Contact Points and National Codex Committees.
49. The delegation of New Zealand since the last CCNASWP session had provided assistance to the Pacific Island Countries. As in previous years, New Zealand noted their continuing commitment to examine specific requests and to provide technical assistance to facilitate the participation of Pacific Island Countries in the work of Codex, depending on the available resources.