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TPD > FTAA > Canada Proposals 2000 > Positions

Canada's Proposals for the FTAA Agreement 
FTAA Negotiating Groups - Canadian Written Submissions 


October 2000


Canada agrees that Parties reaffirm their rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures in hemispheric trade, recognizing that any formal dispute settlement would be handled in the WTO.

Canada also has a keen interest in facilitating Parties' day-to-day sanitary and phytosanitary activities within the hemisphere. As such, we propose that Parties create a Consultative Group on SPS Measures at this time to provide a regular forum for consultations, problem-solving and institutional cooperation. We envisage that the Consultative Group could adopt a number of broad areas aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of Parties' regulations within an increasingly active trade environment, including: technical cooperation and assistance; enhanced transparency; operational guidelines; problem identification and resolution; and consideration of issues under discussion in multilateral and international fora. 

It must be clear that the Consultative Group would not undertake the negotiating mandate of the NGAG but rather would provide a mechanism to deal effectively with the identification and resolution of current sanitary or phytosanitary problems between countries in the hemisphere. It would be unfortunate to wait five years to address problems we all face today. 

As an illustrative list, the Consultative Group could examine the following issues:

  • How to further develop and strengthen national enquiry points and notification processes through technical cooperation? 

  • An agreement to establish a comprehensive, issue-specific, list of competent representatives in the fields of animal health, plant health and food safety. 

  • To encourage an open system of timely notification and counter-notification of planned and existing SPS measures. 

Problem Identification and Resolution:

  • To identify and facilitate resolution of SPS related problems between Parties. In this regard, the Consultative Group may examine the usefulness of referrals to recognized experts for non-binding technical advice or recommendations. 

  • How best to use the good offices of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics and the International Plant Protection Convention, as well as their relevant regional bodies within the hemisphere for advice and assistance on problems arising between Parties or identified by the Consultative Group? 

Operational Guidelines:

  • Establishing operational guidelines to facilitate the effective and timely implementation of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement within the hemisphere in a manner which does not create new rights or obligations. For example, in situations where an importing party conducts a risk assessment for the purposes of establishing equivalence or approving products, the guidelines could encourage that the assessment be carried out in the time strictly necessary to gather, process and analyse the information pertinent to the assessment, and propose written justification in situations of undue delay. 

Institutional Cooperation:

  • How can regulatory authorities within FTAA countries better cooperate in order to improve the effectiveness of their regulatory/approval systems (e.g. biotechnology) and enhance collaborative surveillance activities on issues such as zoonotic diseases and emerging pathogens? 

  • How can FTAA countries share their experiences vis-à- vis risk assessment methodologies, principles and practices? 

Hemispheric Coordination in Multilateral and International Fora:

  • Prioritizing sectoral interests and coordinating positions in relevant international standards-setting bodies and within the WTO SPS Committee. 

  • Hemispheric strategies, positions and priorities to further equivalency work in both the relevant international bodies and amongst Parties. 

  • How to improve the ability of international standards-setting bodies to incorporate and reflect in their work the positions and views of all FTAA countries? 

Technical Assistance:

  • How to design and deliver effective programs of technical assistance and cooperation amongst FTAA Parties to facilitate achievement of all the above issues?

Source: Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade