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Strengthening the role of the private sector in the Arab food safety initiative

Strengthening the role of the private sector in the Arab food safety initiative

Wrote: Ayman Wasfy

An integral part of the Arab initiative for food safety and trade facilitation, within the framework of the Sida-funded SAFE project, is to develop a mechanism for the private sector to be involved and provide their perspective on the critical issues related to food safety and regional trade. The proposed mechanism for private sector involvement would entail their participation in the Arab Taskforce on Food Safety established under the SAFE project in collaboration with the Leagues of Arab States and its two specialized institutions, AIDMO and AOAD

In order to give this proposed mechanism a suitable and sustainable structure, a 2-day workshop on the “strengthening the role of the private sector in the Arab initiative for food safety and trade facilitation” from 19-20 December 2016, at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, in Amman – Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Following a series of presentations by the Union of Arab Chambers (UAC), the Leagues of Arab States (LAS), the Arab Federation of Food Industries (AFFI) and the International Life Science Institution (ILSI)-Middle East Chapter and UNIDO, the participants – from the various chambers and food companies from the Arab region, were asked to breakout into two groups to discuss two critical aspects: Identifying key challenges related to food safety and SPS compliance requirements; and Modalities on how best to be represented in the process at regional level

After 2 days of deliberations, the participants agreed to on the following recommendations and presented them to HE Senator Nael Kabariti, President of the Union of Arab Chambers in order for them to be included in the agenda of the next UAC meeting 

  1. The technical committee formed under the umbrella of the Union of Arab Chambers of specialists from the Arab Chambers of representatives (commercial, industrial, agricultural and service) and the Arab Federation for Food Industries and the Arab Association for Food and Beverages and international companies active in the field of industry, trade and services of food, goods and food products, will represent the private sector at the ATF of the SAFE project: Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation, and will be instrumental in identifying trade   impediments related to food safety and  propose possible solutions to these issues, as well act as provide critical technical inputs in the development and harmonization, unification of regulations  and specifications for food products, in order to improve the regional food safety and control system, as well as enhance regional trade within the Greater Arab Free Trade Area
  1. The Department of Economic Integration at the League of Arab States, as the Executive Secretariat of the SAFE project: Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation will develop a detailed program on mechanism of private sector involvement in the ATF of the project, in collaboration with UAC, taking into account the observations and interventions by participants in the workshop and reflecting best international practices, and submit this program to the Board of the UAC for approval
  1. The Union of Arab Chambers, the Arab Federation for Food Industries, the Arab Association for Food and Beverage will provide the ATF Secretariat – LAS, the addresses of the renowned competent companies producing, processing food and trading within the Arab region, to explore the possibility of engaging them in the technical committees of the ATF, as reflected within paragraph (1) of the recommendation

At the conclusion of the workshop participants expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Jordanian Chamber of Commerce represented by its Chairman HE Senator Nael Kabariti for the warm reception and generous hospitality and success of the food safety initiative

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