February 14, 2019 Kyiv, Agricultural Commodity Exchange office
World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Transparency Program Round Table.
Ukrainian Agribusiness Associations met with government officials to discuss how to jointly address and comment on draft SPS measures notified to the WTO by other countries when the measures are determined to be trade restrictive or lacking a scientific basis. At this USDA-funded roundtable, participants raised concerns that some legislation regulating agricultural business issues is not favorable to business development.
It was also discussed that this could be avoided if business associations could play a more active role at the drafting stage of legislation while changes and corrections can still be made. The round table brought together representatives from the Ukrainian Agribusiness Associations and government agencies, such as the Enquiry Point, Unit for Foreign Relations and European Integration at State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection, the Export Promotion Office, and the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service.
Knowledge Sharing and Outreach: Following a December 2018 USDA-sponsored study tour program to the United States, titled "The Role of Trade Associations in Engaging Government and Promoting Members' Interests via SPS Transparency Disciplines," Ukrainian officials shared their experiences with other colleagues in business associations and government.
The round table was divided into two parts. First, the study tour participants presented and shared their findings about the U.S. system, focusing on cooperation between the U.S. government and U.S. trade associations. Some of the key issues included:
Communication and cooperation process between the government, business and trade associations in the United States;
Differences between the commenting process in the United States and Ukraine, including how comments are received and handled;
Science-based approach to new standards and regulations, and the system of risk assessment and management;
Role of trade associations in engaging with the government to address comments on draft SPS measures to be notified to the WTO by other countries and how these actions promote the association members' interests and trade objectives. For example, the solicitation of comments from industry groups can help to change the proposed SPS measure into more effective technical regulations.
During the second part of the round table, representatives of the Ukrainian government agencies made short presentations about their work.
Yuliya Hlukhonets, Chief specialist of the unit of international agreements and technical assistance, Directorate of International Cooperation, State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection, discussed the main principles of work with agricultural associations and the communication process. She briefly described how they work with associations, talked about the EU approximation process and answered some questions about the export potential of Ukraine.
Natalya Virchenko from the Ukrainian Enquiry Point presented on how associations can work with the local enquiry point in Ukraine and the available resources. Natalya emphasized that business associations have can play a more active role in the commenting process. She acknowledged some recent progress in working with business associations, noting that the Ministry of Economics and Trade recently published comments from associations on the ministry's website, a first for Ukraine.
Alexander Kolesnikov from the Office of Export Promotion delivered an overview of his responsibilities and agency's activities.
In sum, all participants of the meeting eagerly participated in the discussion on SPS legislation, rulemaking processes, and communication among WTO partner countries.