World Trade Agreements Related With Food Business

In other cases, such as the extension of organic food to other countries, a trade agreement could also create jobs in this sector, Anderson said. Bio-equivalent agreements allow other countries to label their bio-imports as organic without having to go through USDA certification. This is because the agreement recognizes that the standards and certification process in that country are similar to those of the United States to carry an organic label in U.S. stores. Another potential point of interest for a U.S. agreement on organic equivalency is Mexico, which is developing a rigorous control system for certification, implementation and other aspects of standard credibility and maintaining the integrity of organic foods worldwide, said Bob Anderson, Senior Trade Advisor for the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Anderson said the U.S. government and OTA are in direct conversation with Mexico and are helping the country build and monitor the development of this organic control system. According to Woodall, companies can source from another country with which the United States now has a free trade agreement, because the product is cheaper, although the lowest price is sometimes synonymous with poor standards of quality and safety. To compete, other companies, including U.S. producers, can also lower their prices. These agreements can have an impact on both employment and prices on domestic producers, particularly if the agreement is reached with a country with a large agricultural system, which depends on weak environmental protection and low labour costs.

This can bring in a flood of cheap products, meat, seafood and other products from other countries that might be less safe and of lower quality than U.S. products, but that are still purchased because they are the cheaper option, Woodall said. The country of origin marking (COOL) of meat is an example, as it has been challenged by Canada and Mexico as a barrier to illegitimate trade. Earlier this year, the WTO again made its decision in its favour after refusing a fourth U.S. appeal to maintain labelling rules. Since then, Canada has threatened to impose high tariffs. Food standards and trade go hand in hand to ensure safe, nutritious and sufficient food for a growing world population.

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