GENEVA, Switzerland, 11 July 2019 (CMC): The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group is warning of “grave implications” for its members as it expressed concern at the “arbitrary adoption” of measures by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that negatively affect developing countries and go against the principles of facilitating development through trade.

Speaking on behalf of the ACP, Coordinator of the ACP Geneva Group, Ambassador Cheryl Spencer of Jamaica said the grouping, which includes 16 Caribbean countries, relies heavily on many substances that are subject to arbitrary measures, as these substances are often necessary for production and in post-harvest activities.

“We wish, however, to acknowledge the right of WTO members to exercise policy space to legitimately protect human, animal, and plant health and safety. At the same time, the ACP calls on members adopting these measures to do so in line with the established rules and ethos of the WTO.”

She said in the case of bananas, for example, the crop plays “an indispensable role” in job creation, rural development, and livelihood security in a number of ACP states and that “it is further worthy of note that the European Union has been a primary market for our banana exports.

“Therefore, lowering MRLs (maximum residue limits) for [the fungicide] imazalil — a key post-harvest input — can have severe and wide-ranging impacts on the banana sectors in many ACP countries.

“It should be borne in mind that in many instances there is no effective substitute amongst the available phytosanitary products with the efficacy of those affected by the lowering of MRLs, especially with regards to sporulation control.”

Ambassador Spencer said the ACP concern is particularly centred on the arbitrary nature of the steps taken toward the implementation of these new measures, given that the “assumed consumer risks are often premised on what we believe to be insufficient data and inconsistency with the recommendations of international organisations such as the CODEX, FAO, and the WHO”.